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New Illinois laws address distracted driving, speeding

On the first day of the new year about 150 new laws went into effect in Illinois. They cover issues ranging from taxes for strip clubs to criminal penalties and restrictions for sex offenders. Several new laws focus on road safety and may help prevent serious motor vehicle accidents in 2013.

One new law places additional restrictions on cellphone use in vehicles with the hope of curbing dangerous distracted driving. Effective Jan. 1, commercial drivers will be prohibited from using hand-held cellphones while driving a vehicle. There are exceptions, however, that allow commercial drivers to call emergency services or law enforcement.

It is also now illegal for any motorist to use a cellphone while driving in any highway work zone. Illinois already barred motorists from using mobile phones in school zones and highway construction zones. Safety experts hope that expanding that prohibition will make for safer work zones.

In addition to distracted driving, speeding is a major cause of highway fatalities in Illinois and across the country. Illinois has taken a step to curb speeding with a law that increases penalties for motorists caught excessively speeding.

Excessive speeding means driving at least 25mph over the speed limit in urban areas and 30mph over the limit in rural areas. The new law is being called "Julie's Law," named for a girl who was days away from graduating high school when she was killed by a motorist driving 76 mph in a 40 mph zone.

These new laws are a step in the right direction when it comes to making Illinois roads safer but they cannot guarantee that all drivers will act responsibly. If you or someone you love have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted, speeding or otherwise negligent driver, consider speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source: The Belleville News-Democrat, "New Illinois laws: 'Skin tax' for strip clubs, more limits on phone use while driving," Dec. 31, 2013

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