The Dangers of Distracted Driving in Illinois
With the advancement of technology, it’s possible to turn your car into an office on wheels and get Wi-Fi almost anywhere. Everything has “gone mobile” and the use of cell phones while driving has sky rocketed. According to the National Safety Council, at least 9 Americans die and 100 are injured each day in distracted driving accidents. Teenage driving and distracted driving are two major causes of motor vehicle accidents. Often the two causes overlap, with younger drivers often being guilty of distracted driving to a greater degree than their parents. Everybody knows that texting and driving is a dangerous habit, yet they do it anyways. Read on to learn ways that you can decrease your risk of being involved in a distracted driving accident.
According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S. In fact, teenagers accounted for the highest percentage of drivers reported as “distracted” at the time of deathly car accidents in 2016. TeenSafe, a smartphone control and monitoring service, claims that texting and driving raises a teenager’s risk for being involved in a car accident by 400 percent.
When these young drivers have passengers, they tend to become distracted, and their risk doubles for being involved in a fatal driving accident. A 2016 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study found that the presence of other teen friends in the car is an even greater distraction than cell phones. Experts also report that teens tend to underestimate driving dangers, including cell phone usage, poor road conditions, and other driving challenges.
Teenagers routinely practice dangerous driving behaviors. In fact, 32.8% of high school students have texted or emailed while they drove, and 56% of teens have talked on cell phones while they were behind the wheel. Almost half of those 12 to 17 have ridden in a car when the driver was texting. It is now more important than ever that parents make educating their children about the dangers of distracted driving a top priority.
Is Hands-Free the Way to Go?
Illinois law prohibits the use of handheld cellphones, texting or using other electronic communications while operating a motor vehicle. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other mobile devices as they drive each day. In most cases, young drivers between the ages of 16-24 are the guiltiest of this practice. All drivers, no matter their age, should put down the cell phone while driving.
Many people think that opting for hands-free alternatives, such as a Bluetooth headset or voice activated commands, is safer, but this behavior can still be dangerous. Illinois State Police warns that, “using hands-free technology such as a headset or voice activated controls is considered a distraction while driving and can be dangerous. If a driver must make a phone call, even with hands-free technology, it is recommended the driver pull off to the side of the road before making the call.” Anything that takes your attention off the road and away from other drivers increases your chance of being involved in an accident. Anyone who causes an accident due to distracted driving may face criminal penalties and jail time.
Additionally, the ISP notes that using the speaker phone option while still holding onto the phone is not considered “hands free” and is against Illinois state law. However, there are certain instances in which an Illinois driver can use a cell phone that is not considered “hands free”. Those reasons include:
- To report an emergency situation
- While parked on the shoulder of the road
- While stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the vehicle is in neutral or park
How to Avoid Distractions
Sometimes distractions are unavoidable, but most of the time, drivers are making a conscious choice to allow distractions while driving. Here are some steps that you can take to become a more aware driver:
- Limit interaction with passengers
- Avoid talking while driving
- Don’t take your eyes off the road
- Keep both hands on the wheel
- Don’t multitask while driving
- Don’t mess with the radio
- Pull over to eat, drink, or care for children
If you do find yourself in a situation that absolutely requires you to use your phone, pull over to a safe place. Also, get comfortable with your phone’s controls in case a call is unavoidable. It is always a good idea to turn your phone off before you drive so you won’t be tempted to use it. Many phones nowadays include a do not disturb feature that can often automatically detect when you are driving. Some phones can even respond to your texts for you letting the person on the other side know that you will get back to them when you are not driving.
Whiteside & Goldberg, Ltd.
Even if you do follow all of the advice in this article, it is still very possible to find yourself in an accident caused by distracted driving. Proving fault in a distracted driving case may sound simple, but it is often a complex matter that requires the diligent work of an experienced law firm. Contact WG Law Group if you or a loved one are a victim of a distracted driving accident in the Chicago area.
Whiteside & Goldberg, Ltd. works hard to get you the settlement you deserve. They offer a free consultation and do not charge you anything until you win a settlement. The experienced attorneys at Whiteside & Goldberg, Ltd. fight to secure your financial future. For more information on car accident lawsuits, call 312-334-6875 for the Whiteside & Goldberg Michigan Avenue location and 815-730-7535 for their Shorewood office. You should never battle a distracted driving case without an excellent attorney by your side.
The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute or establish an attorney-client relationship, nor constitute legal advice. If you wish to discuss any further aspect of the material contained herein, please contact an attorney at Whiteside & Goldberg, Ltd.