The newsletter of the Active Transportation Alliance

Volume 3, Issue 1 - January 2010


New 2010 laws curb distracted driving

The new year brought an added reason to celebrate when a handful of new laws supported by Active Trans were added to the Illinois books.

Two of the new laws focus on distracted driving, a problem generating growing waves of concern around the nation. This mounting interest was demonstrated recently by Webster’s New World Dictionary choosing “distracted driving” as its 2009 Word of the Year. In response to Webster’s announcement, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gave readers of his blog a clear message showing where he stands on the issue: “I think its rapid intrusion into our national vocabulary shows what an epidemic distracted driving has become.”

Active Trans members played a crucial role in these legislative victories. Thanks to your efforts, roads and sidewalks in Illinois are now safer places. Here’s a quick rundown of key pieces of Illinois legislation that were enacted at the beginning of the year.

Texting while driving. HB 71 bans nearly all texting while driving in Illinois, whether it’s on cell phone, a personal digital assistant or a portable computer. Along with texting, the measure applies to e-mailing, instant messaging and surfing the Internet. The law does not apply to the use of GPS devices, voice-activated devices, and any device that is installed in the dashboard. Read the bill on the Illinois General Assembly’s website.

Cell phone use while driving through school and construction zones. HB 72 puts an end to cell phone use for Illinois drivers in school zones and highway construction areas. The law contains exemptions for drivers using a cell phone in an emergency and drivers using voice-activated cell phones. Read the bill on the Illinois General Assembly’s website.

What you can do to support these laws.

These new laws dovetail with a two-year-old law that restricts drivers under the age of 19 from using cell phones anytime while driving in Illinois. Make sure your friends and neighbors know about all these laws and why they enhance safety for all road and sidewalk users. All these laws will have the desired effect as long as proper enforcement occurs. Write to your local police commander to ensure that enforcement is taking place.

Additional fine for speeding tickets in school zones. SB 75 adds an extra $50 to speeding tickets issued in Illinois school zones. The $50 will go toward the school district’s Safe Routes to School programs and safety programs that are part of the School Safety and Educational Improvement Block Grant Program. The bill is available on the Illinois General Assembly’s website.

What you can do to support the law.

Write to your local police commander asking if patrol officers are imposing the added fine. Also, check with your school district’s finance office to ensure the district is using the funds for Safe Routes and safety programs.

Formation of the Illinois School Transportation Task Force The task force will study Illinois’ school transportation program with the hope of reducing its annual $800 million price tag. The task force will look for ways save the state on unnecessary busing costs and help develop strategies for encouraging more kids to walk and ride their bikes to school. Active Trans put forth this resolution to create more active transportation options for students.

New websites help fight distracted driving

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood recently launched a website that features FAQs, research, and ways to take action against distracted driving. FocusDriven is the first national nonprofit organization devoted to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. The fledgling organization offers support for victims and family members who lost loved ones due to distracted driving.

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