By Steve Rensberry, Editor
If you’re either a habitual or periodic user of a cell phone while driving, this would be a good month to make yourself kick the habit. As most of us know in this fair state, it is not only a dangerous habit but an illegal one — as easy and as tempting as it may be. I’ll admit that the law has taken some getting used to, even for me, but unless my phone is secured in a hands-free holder, I just don’t touch it anymore. With the right speaker phone and voice recognition technology, you really don’t need to.
This month, in case you haven’t heard, has been designated by state officials as “Distracted Driving Awareness Month,” with a campaign that includes beefed up enforcement and police patrols.
The Illinois State Police, along with more than 100 local law enforcement agencies and the Illinois Department of Transportation are working cooperatively on the effort.
Troy Police Chief Brad Parson told council members as their April 1 meeting that the Troy Police Department would be among those departments putting extra patrols on the roads during the month.
Current Illinois law prohibits drivers from test messaging, from using their phone for emailing and internet use, and from using any hand held electronic communication device in general. It is illegal for drivers 18 years and younger to use any wireless phone, hands-free or otherwise, while driving. All motorists are prohibited from the use of cell phones in school speed zone, construction or maintenance zones, or within 500 feet of an emergency scene.
More restrictions are coming.
Last August, then governor Bruce Rauner signed into law House Bill 4846, which will reclassify all such offenses as “moving violations,” meaning they will become a black mark on a driver’s record and be among the offenses that are reported to insurance companies, even for first-time offenders. The new law will take effect on July 1.