Drivers everywhere know the dangers of using your phone while driving. Distracted driving is a nationwide problem with 1-in-4 drivers found to have used a cell phone moments before a crash. Illinois lawmakers are pushing to increase penalties for drivers who can’t put their phones down until they reach their destination.
The new law would impose more severe penalties on drivers found using their cell phone during a crash. Fines would increase from $75 to $1,000 and a one-year suspension of their driver’s license. Distracted driving kills thousands each year and many of those using their phones while driving are our youngest drivers.
A texting and driving citation could cost you more than the fine. Reinstating a suspended license typically costs money, too. Fees for reinstatements usually fall between $250-$500. However, it is not yet known if the proposed law would carry fines for license reinstatements if cell phone use causes a crash.
Skeptics of the bill are doubtful of the impact because many people who text while driving don’t believe it’s a problem for them, thinking that their behavior couldn’t cause an accident. Proponents, however, say the goal isn’t to stop everyone from using their cell phones while behind the wheel. That’s not necessarily realistic. If the threat of harsher fines causes a small portion of drivers to put their device away until they reach home, that’s better than nothing.
We know that cell phone-related accidents and fatalities happen despite of current laws. This legislation wouldn’t solve the problem but seeks to minimize Illinois’ distracted driving problem. The threat of a suspended license forces the driver to consider whether a text message is worth risking their freedom to drive entirely.