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Effective Jan. 1, 2014, Illinois law prohibits the use of hand-held cellphones, texting or using other electronic communications while operating a motor vehicle. Hands-free devices or Blue Tooth technology is allowed for persons over age 18. Illinois drivers are exempt from using a cellphone while driving only when:
- Reporting an emergency situation.
- Using the device hands-free or in voice-activated mode.
- Parked on the shoulder of a roadway.
- Stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the vehicle is in neutral or park.
Drivers who are in a crash resulting from distracted driving may face criminal penalties and incarceration.
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. There are three main types of driving distraction:
- Visual – taking your eyes off the road.
- Manual – taking your hands off the wheel.
- Cognitive – taking your mind off what you’re doing.
All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
But, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.
- Pull over to a safe place to talk on the phone, text message, or email. Also learn how your phone’s controls work in case a call is unavoidable. Practice good habits by turning your phone off before you drive so you won’t be tempted to answer calls on the road.
- Don't touch that dial. Adjust seat positions, climate controls, sound systems and other devices before you leave or when you stop. Know how your controls work so if you must adjust something on the go, you’ll be less distracted. Use presets for radio and climate control, or have your passenger assist you.
- Don’t multi-task when driving. Don’t use the vehicle’s mirrors for personal grooming when the vehicle is in motion or try to read or write while you’re behind the wheel.
- Pull over to care for children. Change the baby, feed the kids, and buckle them into their vehicle seats before you leave. If you need to attend to them, pull over in a safe place -- don’t try to handle children while you’re driving.
- Stop to eat or drink. Drive-through windows and giant cup holders make it tempting to have a meal while driving, but you’re safer when you stop to eat or drink. If you can’t avoid eating while driving, try to avoid messy foods.
Visit the NHTSA Distracted Driving Website