FRANKFORT, Ill. (AP) — Illinois drivers are
coming under more pressure to stay off their cellphones as a result of new
measures Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law Friday, including one that bans
using a mobile device to take photos near an emergency scene.
Three of the four new laws confront the
problem of drivers becoming distracted by talking or texting on their
cellphones, something U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called
a "national epidemic." LaHood, a former Illinois congressman, and other
federal officials have been calling on states to crack down on distracted
driving, which studies have shown is a particularly acute problem among
teenage and young adult drivers.
"These new laws will protect children and
families and prevent dangerous trends such as speeding and distracted
driving," Quinn said.
One of the new measures prohibits the use
of cellphones by drivers in all roadwork zones. Previously, that
restriction applied only to work zones with speed-limit reductions.
Another measure bars commercial drivers
from any hand-held cellphone use, bringing Illinois law in line with
Both of those laws take effect Jan. 1.
One that goes into force immediately makes
it illegal to use a mobile phone while driving within 500 feet of an
emergency scene. That legislation also expands the definition of
"electronic message" to prohibit using a cellphone to take photos near
In Illinois, it is already illegal to send
or read text messages while driving. Also, cellphone use is prohibited in
The National Transportation Safety Board
has called on states to get even tougher by considering complete bans on
cellphone use by drivers, including the use of hands-free phones. Most
studies show that hands-free conversations are just as distracting to
drivers as those involving hand-held phones.
Quinn on Friday also signed a bill known as
Julie's Law, which targets speeders. The law prohibits courts from
granting supervision to anyone charged with doing 30 mph over the speed
limit on highways and 25 mph over in urban areas.
It's named after Julie Gorczynski, an
Orland Park teen killed in 2011 after her car was hit by a driver going 76
mph in a 40 mph zone. The driver had been previously placed on court
supervision seven times for excessive speeding.