National / News / January 13, 2010

Illinois bans texting while driving

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2010, a new Illinois state law took effect that banned drivers from composing, reading or sending messages with a wireless device while driving. This includes text messaging. The law still allows drivers to talk on their cell phones and text in the case of an emergency while driving.

Captain of the Galesburg Police Department Lindsey May said he expects the law will be enforced and make drivers to think twice before texting while driving. The fine for texting while driving is the same as any other traffic violation, $75 in Galesburg.

While many students who were randomly asked about their opinions on this new legislation agreed that it was a good thing, the majority also felt that the law was useless because it would not be able to be enforced. May admitted that it can be difficult for officers to detect when a driver is texting, but not all together impossible.

May cited an instance where he and fellow officers were off-duty and driving between Peoria and Galesburg. While on the road, they were able to see the woman driving the car next to them with her checkbook and a pen out on the wheel while she was also talking on her cell phone. If the officers could look into her car and see that, May said, they could also look and see a person using their blackberry or cell phone at the wheel.

He also knows that accidents caused by cell phone use are not always detected after the fact. A driver might be texting when an accident happens but deny that later.

“We don’t have a good mechanism of tracking that,” said May. “Sometimes people are just distracted [with their own thoughts].”

May believes the new law against using electronics to communicate while driving is necessary. He feels that this law, like the seatbelt law, will become the accepted way for drivers to behave over time.

“Some people will keep doing it and hope they do not get caught,” said May. “Gradually more and more people complied with [the seatbelt laws]. The same will happen with texting.”

The students that TKS talked to were divided on whether the laws will actually affect the use of electronic communication device while driving, they all agreed that texting and driving was a bad decision. Many felt that it impairs a driver’s judgment and could cause reckless driving as well as accidents. Several said they did not text while they drove and thought it was a problem without a clear solution.

Student thoughts

“I feel like [texting and driving] is a bad idea because it’s distracting and dangerous. I can’t think of anything that’s more engaging than using those on the road.”-Adam Sairgany, sophomore

“You shouldn’t [text and drive]. I’ve had three friends in car accidents because of it…But I don’t think it should be illegal. It’s just another stupid law that policemen can’t enforce.”-Erin Daugherty, freshman

“I would generally be against [texting and driving]. I think it is unsafe…Making it illegal is a good thing because whether it is enforceable or not less people will be doing it.”-Eric Hane, sophomore

“I think texting and driving is really unsafe. I think it’s on par with drinking and driving. It really impairs you because you’re not paying attention.”-Aryn Norton, sophomore

“I think that the texting while driving is a redundant law. Texting while driving and getting into an accident should be negligence anyway.”-Johnathan Ebbers, freshman

“I think it’s a good idea to ban [texting while driving]. I think it’s a good idea because you definitely have to look down when you do it. I don’t think there’s a way to enforce it. I don’t think many people will follow [the law].”-Sam Conrad, junior

Laura Miller

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