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In case you were unaware, our texting law just got tougher

You probably had a busy summer and may not have kept up with all the news of the day.

However, if you drive a vehicle and use a cellphone, you should know that over the summer, the Illinois texting law grew sharp teeth.

A little background

Most of the states in the U.S., including Illinois, have bans against texting while driving. The Illinois ban became official in 2010. A study by researchers at the Texas A&M School of Public Health found that texting laws have likely prevented some serious vehicle crashes. Their report, published in the American Journal of Public Health, revealed that in states with bans versus those without, hospital visits for people injured in traffic accidents declined. Researchers took other causes into account, such as speeding and drunk driving, but the decline is still tied to texting bans.

The new Illinois rules

The new Illinois distracted driving rules took effect on July 1, 2019. Any driver caught using a cellphone while driving now faces harsher penalties. In such instances, law enforcement used to issue a warning, but now drivers caught texting will receive moving violation citations, which appear on their driving records. Drivers who collect three such citations within a year could suffer license suspension.

Facing fines

In 2018, Illinois law enforcement officers issued 15,150 citations for distracted driving, and the state hopes that the new law greatly reduces that statistic. The new fines include $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second, $125 for a third and $150 for all future distracted driving offenses.

Looking ahead

As the Texas A&M study showed, adults are just as guilty of texting while driving as teens, if not more so. In fact, adults cannot seem to stop their frequent checks on emails and text messages. All drivers must be vigilant, given the frequency of traffic accidents caused by distracted driving. Do your part to keep from using your cellphone while driving, avoid becoming a car crash victim and enjoy a safe transition from summer to fall.

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