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Expanded cellphone use laws in Illinois ignored by some states

It's hard to believe, with studies repeatedly confirming the link between cellphones and traffic accidents, any state would permit drivers to talk and text freely. The majority of states like Illinois has banned texting but allows limited cellphone use while driving. Some states entirely outlaw hand-held cellphone use; other states have no cellphone restrictions at all.

A horrific accident last May occurred in a state that so far has no limits on driver cellphone operation. A 33-year-old truck driver is charged with murder and 19 other crimes for striking multiple emergency vehicles and killing a public safety worker at a highway accident scene.

Authorities said a 47-year-old officer died in his patrol car, when the truck rammed into the fire and police vehicles on site. Police records stated evidence from a dashboard camera showed the accused driver engaged with a cellphone before the truck crash. Officials later learned the driver had been viewing scantily clad females on Facebook.

The uninjured defendant told police he turned to look at a passing truck and never noticed the first responders' vehicles or a worker waving to warn him. Officials indicated a dashboard camera showed the trucker looking at and "manipulating" a cellphone, before the collision caused the phone to fly from his hands.

The driver pleaded not guilty. A trucking log revealed the driver previously had broken employer rules that prohibited on-the-road drivers from using cellphones.

New rules were added for Illinois drivers this year, including a hand-held cellphone ban in construction zones plus a law affecting truck drivers. Illinois commercial vehicle drivers are now prohibited from using a hand-held cell for any reason while operating a rig.

Distracted drivers are negligent for failing to protect other motorists from harm. Even in states where cellphone use is not limited, civil courts award damages to accident victims and grieving families hurt by drivers too busy with cellphones to care about safety.


Source: 
azcentral.com, "Report: Truck driver was looking at phone in deadly crash" D.S. Woodfill, Nov. 01, 2013

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