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Distracted driving leading cause of auto accidents

Even though the dangers of distracted driving are widely-publicized, it seems that the message has not sunk in to every driver. According to the Transportation Safety Group at the National Safety Council, driver distraction is the leading cause of motor vehicle accidents. The Group found distraction is a factor in about 80 percent of car accidents. Before picking up the phone while behind the wheel, Illinois drivers should consider the dangers of distracted driving and the state's laws about distracted driving.

Dangers of distracted driving

The U.S. Department of Transportation reported that in 2011 alone, 3,331 people died in distraction-related auto accidents - up from 3,267 in 2010. The number of people who suffered injuries in distracted driving motor vehicle accidents in 2011 was about 387,000. Researchers from Monash University found that drivers who use hand-held electronic devices are four times more likely to be involved in an injury-causing accident. Drivers who send text messages while behind the wheel are 23 times more likely to get into accidents, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Distracted driving encompasses more than just cell phone use while driving. Driver distractions include anything that take the driver's attention off the task of driving. Distractions can be:

  • Visual: things that take the driver's eyes off the road, such as reading maps, GPS devices, street signs or billboards
  • Manual: things that cause a driver to take his or her hands off the steering wheel, such as answering a cell phone, sending a text message, eating or grooming
  • Cognitive: things that take a driver's thoughts away from driving such as conversations with passengers or on the phone

Illinois' distracted driving laws

Illinois has several laws regulating drivers' behavior to try to eliminate distracted driving. As of January 1, 2013, commercial vehicle drivers may not use hand-held cell phones or send text messages while driving, which mirrors federal safety regulations. Prior to the change in the law, commercial drivers were only prohibited from sending text messages while driving. Drivers may not use hand-held cell phones in school or construction zones. Drivers with graduated licenses may not use cell phones at all - not even hands-free devices. Additionally, the state bans sending text messages while driving for all drivers.

Talk to a lawyer

When drivers do not take caution behind the wheel, they cause accidents. In some cases, when drivers violate state driving laws it can demonstrate that they were negligent. If you have been injured by another driver's carelessness, speak with an experienced attorney who can help you recover for your losses.

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