On July 1, 2019, a new Illinois state law will go into effect to tighten the restrictions on distracted drivers. HB 4846 requires that all drivers who operate a handheld device such as a cell phone while driving will receive a moving violation and a fine, even if it is the first time they are cited. After three moving violations, the driver may have their license suspended. It is a good idea for all drivers, no matter their vehicle, to understand the meaning of distracted driving as well as how the new law is intended to provide road safety.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1,000 people are injured every day in the United States in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers. Most drivers do not realize that there are officially considered to be three types of distraction while driving. Visual distraction involves looking elsewhere from the road, cognitive driving means thinking about other things than safe driving and manual distraction means removing hands from the wheel. Looking down at a cell phone, rummaging in a console or bag for items or getting involved in lively conversation can all lead to motor vehicle accidents from driver distraction.

The National Safety Council states on their website that there is no safe way to use a cell phone and drive. The council recommends that even hands-free operation of cell phones is not a safe way to operate a vehicle. While the new law only covers handheld devices at the current time, drivers are recommended to put their phones down while driving until parked safely.

Building safe driving habits can lead to safer roads. Ultimately, the goal of fewer motor vehicle accidents can benefit all citizens, whether behind the wheel or not.