Teens Talking and Texting While Driving

Imagine you’re 16 again. You haven’t been driving long and the excitement hasn’t worn off. Having your own car or being able to borrow mom or dad’s keys is still the highlight of your day – particularly on Friday and Saturday when you have the freedom to hang out with your friends. You’re no long confined to asking for a ride or waiting for someone to pick you up at the end of the night. Now, if you want to go grab food at 9 p.m., you and your friends can just hop in your car. If you want to go pick up your other friend who isn’t lucky enough to have wheels, no problem.

It’s an exhilarating independence. But it also comes with responsibilities. In addition to learning how to drive, you had to learn the rules of the road. And nowadays, these rules include a strict prohibition on talking or texting on your phone while driving. Unfortunately, this is one of the rules teenagers break the most.

Illinois Law on Cell Phones and Driving

As of January 2014, Illinois has taken a strong stand against anyone improperly using a cell phone while driving. It’s prohibited for anyone to use a hand-held device while driving. This means you can’t hold a phone up to your ear while driving or even hold it in your hand while it’s on speaker phone. And you certainly can’t text and drive at the same time. You can, however, use voice-activated technology and hands-free devices like headsets.

Additionally, all cell phone use, including hands-free options, is off limits if you’re:

  • Driving in a construction zone
  • Driving in a school zone, or
  • A novice driver.

Fines for violating Illinois’ talking or texting while driving laws start at $75. If it’s a subsequent offense, fines rise to $100, $125, and $150. Not the first time, but subsequent offenses are also considered moving violations and added to the person’s record.

Prohibition of Cell Phone Use by Novice Drivers

Under Illinois law, novice drivers are anyone under the age of 19. This means for young, inexperienced drivers, Illinois prohibits all talking on cell phones, including through hands-free technology. It doesn’t matter if the cell phone is nowhere near your hands or if the car comes with calling capabilities, you don’t get to chat while you should be concentrating on the road. Additionally, texting while driving is always prohibited.

The Reasoning Behind the Teen-Focused Law

Teen drivers are easily distracted. They’re young, energetic, excited to be driving, and not yet fully aware of the consequences of their actions behind the wheel. Adolescents think accidents happen to other people, and never contemplate that they’ll be the one to cause a crash, potentially hurting themselves, their friends, and other people.

The reason Illinois is so strict in terms of its talking and texting ban is to help teen drivers stay attentive and safe on the road. By prohibiting talking and texting on their phones – which almost every teenager has now – the state hopes to reduce potential distractions.

Talking and Texting Lead to Car Accidents

It’s old news that talking and texting on cell phones while driving leads to more collisions. However, this is even truer for teens who are considerably less experienced behind the wheel than older drivers. Cell phones are a distraction that take teen’s eyes off the road and hands off the wheel. It might seem like a split second that they look at the phone to dial or Swype a word, but those repeated seconds of looking at the phone instead of in front of the car are what lead to deadly accidents. Thousands of individuals are killed and hundreds of thousands are hurt each year because drivers were distracted – many of them by cell phone.

In a Pew Study regarding teens and distracted driving, researchers found 34 percent of the teens, 16 to 17 years old, interviewed, who reported using their phones to text, said they texted while driving. Of the teens the same age who reported owning a cell phone, 52 percent said they talked on their phone while driving. These figures translated to 26 percent and 43 percent of all American teens texting and talking on their phones while driving, respectively. Additionally, 40 percent of the teens surveyed said they’d been in the car while the driver used a cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger.

Contact the Chicago Car Accident Attorneys with Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C.

If you were injured in a car accident caused by a teen texting or talking on their cell, you have the right to recover for your property damage and injuries. Teenagers are just as responsible for what they do behind the wheel as adults and have to have insurance coverage like everyone else. Anyone who needs their car repaired or replaced or needs their medical bills covered should be able to make a third-party claim to the teen’s auto insurance provider. However, in the insurer denies the claim or won’t offer a fair settlement, you may need to look at other options to recover. Contact the Chicago car accident attorneys with Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 to learn what to do if you were hurt by a teen driver.