Drivers in the state of Illinois now face the possibility of being charged with an aggravated offense for driving while using a cell phone if that usage results in death or a serious injury.
With the start of 2014, the Illinois Vehicle Code has been amended by the Illinois General Assembly to create an aggravated offense for driving while using a video device, wireless telephone, or electronic communication device. Thus, a person convicted of driving while using a video device, wireless telephone, or electronic communication device will face a Class A misdemeanor if during the commission of the violation they were involved in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement to another and the violation and, the proximate cause of the injury.
Also, a person convicted of driving while using a video device, wireless telephone, or electronic communication device will face a Class 4 felony should the violation be committed while they were involved in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in the death of another person and the the death was the result of cell phone violation.
In 2006, a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that the leading factor in 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes could be attributed to driver inattention within three seconds before the event. The study also showed that dialing a hand-held device can increase the chance of a driver being involved in a vehicle crash by three times. Also, listening or talking on a hand-held device can increase by 1.3 times a driver's risk. The report also found that:
- Reaching for a moving object while driving increases the risk of a crash or near-crash by nine times;
- Looking at an external object while driving by 3.7 times;
- Reading while driving by three times; and
- Applying make-up while driving by three times.
NHTSA has estimated that at least 10 percent of all drivers in the state of Illinois are utilizing their cell phones at any given moment while operating their motor vehicle. While cell phones are the most familiar form of distraction, the report from NHTSA indicated that applying makeup, adjusting the radio or stereo and reading a roadmap are among the list of numerous activities that can distract a driver from the responsibility of safely operating a motor vehicle.
Of course, one of the more deadly forms of distraction can be text messaging. In 2007, five New York teenagers were killed in a fiery crash, where it was ultimately determined that the driver was text messaging just prior to the crash. Today's society is such that multi-tasking has become a way of life and many people perform more than one function at a time, many without even realizing they are doing it. Multi-tasking itself is not hazardous except when one of the tasks involves the operation of a motor vehicle and the driver is distracted. Multi-tasking drivers increase the risk of injuring or killing themselves, anyone else that might be in the vehicle with them, and bicyclists, pedestrians or any innocent victim traveling in the other vehicle involved in the crash. Distractions within a car may take the driver's eyes off the roadway and even a 1-2 second distraction can mean tragedy.
The attorneys at Fagan, Fagan & Davis have defended countless clients against Chicago traffic violations throughout Illinois courts located in Cook County, DuPage County and Lake County. The attorneys at Fagan, Fagan & Davis understand which defense strategies are the most effective in court and how to challenge evidence gathered by law enforcement and offered by the prosecution. Contact us now for a free consultation.