Texting and driving is now against the law in Illinois

Records compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that driver distraction is a significant factor in traffic crashes resulting in injury or death. The use of a cell phone while driving can increase the chances of becoming involved in a crash by 400 percent.

On January 1, 2010, two new traffic laws take effect in Illinois.

The first traffic law restricts drivers under the age of 19 (with an instruction permit or graduated license) from using a wireless or cellular phone while driving. This law law also prohibits the use of wireless telephones for all drivers, regardless of age, while operating a vehicle in a school zone or construction zone.

The law provides an exception to exclude a GPS or navigation system, and creates an exception to the electronic message prohibition for a driver using an electronic communication device while parked on the shoulder of a roadway, and creates an exception for a driver using an electronic communication device when the vehicle is stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the driver has the motor vehicle transmission in neutral or park.

The second traffic law prohibits text messaging, composing, reading or sending electronic messages, or accessing internet sites while driving a motor vehicle in a school speed zone or a construction or maintenance speed zone, except for a person engaged in a highway construction or maintenance project for which a construction or maintenance speed zone has been established when the person is using a wireless telephone in furtherance of that project.

The law adds exceptions for specified emergency purposes and law enforcement officers or emergency vehicle operators when performing their official duties. It also adds an exception to wireless telephone in school and construction zones prohibition for a person using a wireless telephone in voice-activated mode.