Distracted driving is a major problem in Chicago and throughout the state of Illinois. In an attempt to cut down on the number of Chicago car accidents caused by distracted driving, the city banned the use of all hand-held mobile devices behind the wheel. Even talking on a cell phone is prohibited, unless the driver is using a hands-free device.
The cell phone ban is certainly a step in the right direction. However, it looks like the prohibition may not be changing drivers' behavior as much as initially anticipated. In 2010, 23,292 Chicago drivers were ticketed for violating the city's cell phone law. This is the highest number ever for a single year and 73 percent more than in 2006, the first year the ordinance was in effect.
Some critics argue that the increase in citations is directly related to the city's budgetary pressures. They say the city has intentionally been more aggressive in seeking out cell phone users in an effort to boost municipal coffers. Indeed, fines from cell phone tickets brought in $2.2 million in revenue in 2010.
Distracted Driving Accidents Still a Problem
Whatever the motives, one thing is certain - thousands of Chicagoans are engaging in distracted driving, putting innocent motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians at risk of harm.
In 2010, the State of Illinois reported that more than 1,000 crashes were caused by distracted driving resulting from use of a cell phone or other hand-held device. The actual number is likely much higher - until a House resolution was passed in May 2011, Illinois law enforcement was not required to track cell phone involvement in motor vehicle accidents.
All drivers have a responsibility to ensure they are not putting others at risk. If you've been the victim of a distracted driving accident, you may have legal recourse. Contact an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney who can help you understand your rights.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "Record Number of Drivers Given Cellphone Tickets in Chicago," Leonor Vivanco, Nov. 10, 2011.