Cell Phone Deaths on Illinois and U.S. Roads and Highways are Rising Rapidly

Each year, 3,000 people on average die and 450,000 are injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers. Ten percent of all drivers who are 15 to 19 years of age involved in fatal crashes were distracted when the car, truck or motorcycle crash occurred. The significant safety problem of distracted driving has grown very rapidly over the past ten years.

Without regard to where it may rank on the list of the most distracting and dangerous activities drivers engage in, there is no dispute that using a cell phone, sending or receiving texts, or trying to use hand-held devices while driving are high on the list. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), at any given moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using or manipulating cell phones while driving.

There are three main types of distractions while driving:

  • Visual: The driver actually looks away from the roadway.
  • Manual: The driver temporarily removes his or her hands from the wheel.
  • Cognitive: The driver’s mind is taken off of driving and goes elsewhere.


All three types of distractions can be deadly. Using a cell phone while driving takes the driver’s attention away from the roadway and driving. As a result of this conduct, state legislatures — including  in states such as Illinois — have been passing laws banning texting while driving. Some are using graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. They are making the effort to protect a demographic seemingly unable to go five minutes without texting or using their  cell phones. There are some social scientists who argue that the driving age should be made 18 instead of 16 for the reason that a driver’s maturity is critical.

The problem has become even worse over the last decade as smartphones, which offer resources from weather reports to navigation systems to thousands of apps, are now cheaper and standard equipment for many people. E-mails and text messages can now be written, read, and replied to while driving, making smartphones even more tempting than ever to use while driving. Technology has brought the possibility of conducting business while driving that would years ago have had to wait until your arrival at the office.

The effectiveness of cell phone and texting laws on distracted driving-related crashes is unclear and is being studied extensively. Some believe that they go too far, sacrificing personal liberty for the sake of safety and security. Others feel they don’t go far enough.

There is similar outcry against the efforts of the federal government’s Department of Transportation against mandating the use of speed limiters. These are also known as Electronic Control Modules (ECMs) – on certain trucks traveling U.S. highways.

As recently as Aug. 26, 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a proposal establishing safety standards. The proposals would have required all newly manufactured U.S. trucks, buses, and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with speed limiting devices.

The justification for these devices is that they save fuel. Many truck fleets currently use limiters voluntarily for precisely this reason. This proposed speed-limiter rule is now open for comment on the NHTSA website.

Critics of the new cell phone laws point out that a more personal liberty-friendly approach would require a state agency to first prove that the proposed criminalized action is the cause of an undesirable effect and that the banning of the action will significantly address the problem. To date, there have been no studies conclusively parsing the different effects of cell phone usage as opposed to other driver-distracting activities.

Illinois law on this subject is below:



ILLINOIS A person cannot operate a vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device. Exceptions include law enforcement officers or emergency vehicle operators while doing their duty, or if the device is hands- free or the driver is parked or sitting in traffic.

625 I.L.C.S. ֻ§ 5/12-610.2

A person under the age of 19 who has an instruction permit or a graduated license may not drive while using a wireless phone.

625 I.L.C.S. § 5/12-610.1

No person, regardless of age, may use a phone while driving if in a construction/maintenance zone or school speed zone, or within 500 feet of an emergency scene.

625 I.L.C.S. § 5/12-610.1

Drivers cannot wear a headset receiver while driving. Exceptions include single ear headsets/earpieces used with phones, hearing aids, or equipment used exclusively for safety or traffic engineering studies, law enforcement personnel on duty or medical/fire service personnel.

625 I.L.C.S. § 5/12/610


Using cell phones while driving is a reckless act that undoubtedly is the cause of many Illinois highway and road deaths. Driving any vehicle requires the utmost attention to the road and the surroundings.  The more information that is promulgated, the better chance that Illinois drivers will observe the law.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling lawsuits for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas including Libertyville, Lincolnwood, Lemont, Arlington Heights, Chicago (Archer Heights, Jackson Park, Garfield Ridge, Lake Calumet, South Shore), Joliet, Elgin and Winthrop Harbor, Ill.

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