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Possible harsher penalties for texting and driving crashes in Illinois

There’s a new push in Springfield to cut down on texting and driving. The proposal would increase the penalties for causing a crash while using your phone.

Even though it’s against the law in Illinois to be on your phone and drive, people still do it.

“I’ve seen people text, mostly young people,” said Camp Point, Illinois resident Dave Leezer.

“A lot of times you’ll see them at intersections, looking down at their phones and you can definitely tell they are texting and driving while they’re at the intersections,” said Payson, Illinois resident Janice Huber.

However, a new bill sponsored by Representative Norine Hammond, R- Macomb, would up the penalty for a driver who causes bodily harm to another while distracted.The fine would go from $75 to $1,000, plus a year without a license.

Hammond released a statement on the bill, saying in part; “It’s my hope that the threat of an increased fine and a suspended driver’s license will make Illinoisans realize how serious the risk is when you don’t have your eyes on the road.”

When you don’t have your eyes on the road, officers say that’s when things can go wrong.

“Roadway conditions can change very fast; a dog runs out in front of somebody, a kid runs out in front of somebody and they slam on their brakes, if you’re not paying attention you may rear-end them,” said Quincy Police Officer William Printy. “You may injury somebody.”

Printy says texting and driving is still a problem.

“We will stop you,” said Printy. “We will write tickets for it because it is a safety issue.”

Even if the proposal passes to increase the fines and penalties for hurting someone while texting and driving, drivers don’t seem to think it will help curb the problem.

“I honestly believe they don’t think it’s a problem and that it won’t impair their ability to drive,” said Leezer.

“I would be for it but I don’t know if it would help because people will ignore the law and just do whatever they want to do,” said Huber.

There are some state representatives who think this bill would affect low-income people. making it harder for them to absorb the cost of a $1,000 fine. However, most agreed that the current $75 fine is to low to be a real deterrent for this widespread habit.

The bill now needs a vote on the House floor before it can be reported to the Senate.

In Missouri, texting and using your phone, while driving is against the law if you are 21 and younger.

Under current law, Iowa drivers are banned from using handheld electronic devices like cellphones to write, send or view electronic messages while driving.


Kaylee Pfeiferling

Multimedia Journalist

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