The Illinois senate recently passed a bill making it illegal to text message or surf the internet on a cell phone while driving. The bill is aimed at reducing distracted driving, a leading cause of auto accidents. The measure is headed to the House where it is expected to pass. If the bill is enacted, it could mean a $75 ticket. For those caught three times texting or surfing three times in one year could cost a motorist their license.
The federal government estimates that 30 percent of all motor vehicle crashes involve a distracted driver. Although no data exists in Illinois showing how many accidents have resulted from texting, two thirds of drivers between 18 and 24 have acknowledged they text and drive at the same time, according to a Zogby poll.
Consider the case of Patrick Sims. One day before Thanksgiving, Patrick was driving within a mile from his home while texting a friend. Then his girlfriend screamed. When Sims looked up from his phone, the front end of his car was inches from striking a cyclist in the bike lane. With no time to react, his vehicle struck and killed a 68 year old grandfather riding his bike.
As the story of Patrick Sims illustrates, one distraction can lead to tragedy. In a split second, someone else' life can end. Distracted driving may be every bit as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Given these dangers, many Illinois citizens may be wondering whether a $75 fine is enough to deter this potentially reckless practice.