by: TruckingInfo

Three important pieces of legislation supported by the Illinois Department of Transportation aimed at reducing cell phone use while driving and clearing lanes of traffic immediately following crashes are now in effect as of Jan. 1.<!stop>

House Bill 5101 prohibits texting or using a hand-held cell phone while driving a commercial motor vehicle and makes this a serious traffic violation. Previously, Illinois law prohibited texting while driving for all vehicles, but cell phones were permitted. Illinois statutes were since amended to be in compliance with the Motor Carrier Safety Regulations law that prohibits texting and cell phone use by commercial motor vehicle drivers.

Senate Bill 2488 prohibits cell phone use in construction or maintenance speed zones regardless of the speed limit in those zones. Motorists can use cell phones in voice-operated mode, which includes the use of a headset or cell phones used with single button activation.

Prior to the passage of this law, the speed limit in a work zone had to be lower than the posted speed limit, or it was not actually considered a work zone by the definition in statute and the higher ticket did not apply. Voice activated use of cell phone was permitted prior to this change.

"People are tragically injured and killed in work zones and by commercial motor vehicles due to distracted driving. Cell phone distractions have been proven to be as dangerous as drinking and driving," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. "These laws will stiffen distracted driving laws and save lives."

Senate Bill 3409 allows the driver of a vehicle involved in a motor vehicle crash resulting only in damage to a vehicle to move the vehicle off the highway to the nearest safe location. The locations for the driver to consider are an exit ramp shoulder, a frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other locations that will not obstruct traffic.

The law states the driver should remain at that location until the requirements are fulfilled concerning the duty to give information and render aid.

The previous statute involving moving a vehicle following a crash stated "Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary." Senate Bill 3409 clarifies the language and explains that moving your vehicle to safety will not violate the statute.

"The decisions made immediately following a crash are critical," Secretary Schneider said. "This law will reduce the chances of further injury and secondary crashes by allowing able vehicles to clear the roadway following a crash."

The Illinois State Police and nearly 300 law enforcement agencies statewide began enforcing these new laws on Jan. 1, along with current impaired driving and seat belt laws.