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What Illinois drivers don't know about laws can kill them

The passage of a traffic law doesn't guarantee instant driver awareness or compliance, especially when a law forbids something that was once permitted. Texting while driving in Illinois became illegal in 2010. A lot of drivers apparently missed that news, if results of an Illinois Tollway survey were accurate.

Forty percent of drivers who participated in the survey had no idea emailing and texting behind the wheel were outlawed. Since then, state agencies have joined forces to heighten awareness. The campaign named "Drive Now. Text Later." attempts to curb cellphone-related accidents.

Cellphone use was tied to over 1,100 Illinois motor vehicle accidents in 2011, the year after the texting law went into effect. Another 600 crashes during the first six months of 2012 were related to cellphone distractions. Distracted drivers were involved in accidents resulting in more than 3,000 nationwide traffic deaths in 2010.

Illinois cellphone laws were revised in 2014. An ABC-affiliated television station reported hand-held cellphone restrictions had already been in place for Chicago drivers when lawmakers decided to take the ban statewide. Drivers may use hands-free cellphones while driving or hand-held phones only when a vehicle is in park or stopped and shifted into neutral.

Federal transportation, health and insurance officials have been hammering home the dangers of talking and texting on cellphones for several years. The use of hand-held devices while driving increases a driver's chance of serious crash injuries by four times. The probability of an accident is 23 times higher for drivers who text.

These statistics have prompted state lawmakers across the country to take action to prevent auto accidents, serious injuries and deaths. Attorneys are prepared to help victims of cellphone-linked accidents recover compensation from negligent drivers.

Injured parties must prove a driver's careless actions played a role in causing an accident for a lawsuit to succeed. Lawyers can help secure evidence to back distracted driving claims.

Source: Illinois Tollway, "Drive Now. Text Later. You can't do both." Nov. 25, 2014

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