[M]aking a small leap to a total cell phone ban when driving through highway construction areas would make a bigger difference in terms of safety.
Chicago, IL (PRWEB) February 23, 2013
Chicago car accident lawyer David J. Pritchard said today that a new Illinois law that bans drivers from using hand-held cell phones in all work zones should help to increase the safety of motorists and highway construction workers alike.
However, Pritchard said, the better move would be a total prohibition on all types of cell phone use behind the wheel for drivers going through work zones.
“Whether you are talking on a hand-held or hands-free device, it can distract you. That type of distraction is especially dangerous when you are driving through a work zone full of workers, barriers and equipment. You should have your full attention on the road,” said Pritchard, a partner with the Chicago personal injury law firm of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C.
“By banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving through work zones, Illinois certainly has taken a step forward in protecting highway workers and motorists,” he said. “Still, making a small leap to a total cell phone ban when driving through highway construction areas would make a bigger difference in terms of safety.”
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the new law (Senate Bill 2488) took effect January 1. The law prohibits drivers from using hand-held cell phones in construction or maintenance zones – regardless of the speed limit in those zones.
Previously, the speed limit in a work zone had to be lower than the posted speed limit, or else it was not considered an actual work zone, IDOT says.
The ban does not apply to drivers using cell phones in “voice-operated mode,” such as using a headset or a cell phone with single-button activation.
Otherwise, Illinois prohibits texting while driving in any motor vehicle and the use of all cell phones by drivers who are 18 years old or younger and by all drivers in school zones or within 500 feet of an emergency scene. Another state law that took effect January 1 bans texting or using a hand-held cell phone while driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in Illinois.
At least 10 Illinois municipalities have their own hand-held cell phone laws, including Highland Park, Winnetka, Evanston and Deerfield. Chicago bans texting while driving and using a hand-held cell phone behind the wheel.
Pritchard said addressing the use of cell phones in work zones is especially important. He pointed to Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) statistics showing 4,863 car crashes in work zones in 2011, which resulted in 24 deaths and 1,525 personal injuries.
“Workers in a highway construction area are incredibly vulnerable to cars and other vehicles that do not slow down or are being driven by a distracted driver,” Pritchard said. “Motorists can also be harmed by other drivers who are distracted in work zones. Given this heightened risk, it would make sense to enact a total ban.
“At our firm, we will continue to support and push for laws that promote safety,” he added. “As personal injury lawyers, we will also stay dedicated to protecting the rights of those harmed in car accidents caused by other drivers’ negligence or recklessness.”
About Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C.
Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. is a leading Chicago personal injury firm with offices in Chicago (22 West Washington Street, Suite 1600, Chicago IL 60602) and Waukegan (218 North Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, Waukegan, IL 60085). In addition to representing clients in catastrophic personal injury, medical malpractice, aviation and product liability cases, the firm focuses on car and truck accidents, airplane and train accidents, construction injuries, birth injuries, brain injuries, unsafe properties and animal attacks. The firm has obtained more than $650 million on behalf of its clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases, including 195 multi-million dollar verdicts or settlements. For more information, call (312) 372-1227 or use the firm’s online contact form.