Friday, January 01, 2010

Illinois New Laws: No Texting While Driving; Use Hands-Free Device Near Schools

A statewide ban on texting while driving is one of nearly 275 new laws that take effect on Jan. 1, covering everything from public records to bowling shoes.

Traffic safety advocates and motorists alike applaud the new texting ban, saying it may make distracted drivers think twice before firing off dispatches from the road.

"Texting takes your hands off of the wheel, your mind off of driving, and your eyes off of the road," said Beth Mosher, spokeswoman for AAA Chicago. "And that's a really dangerous combination."

Rich Kerr has a Blackberry and said while the temptation to text, browse the Web and check e-mail behind the wheel is strong, drivers should remember to focus.

"It's back to basics," he said. "Keep your eyes on the road."

Under the new ban, drivers can check and send messages only if they pull over to the side of the road, their car is in park or neutral or if they're sitting still in traffic, for instance at a train crossing. The law doesn't prevent drivers from reading directions on the screen of a navigation system.

A similar measure also makes it illegal to use a cell phone in a school or construction zone without a handsfree device. Fines can range from $75 to $150, though judges can increase them.
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