A new law that will reclassify a first-time offense of texting while driving as a moving violation will go into effect on July 1, 2019 in Illinois and will boost the penalty for violators, reports the State-Register Journal.
Presently, first time offenders found texting behind the wheel get a ticket, but it’s a non-moving violation.
The new law will likely hurt violators wallets when it comes to insurance premiums as well. Motorists convicted of a moving violation typically experience an up to 20% increase in their rates, according to the State-Register.
In addition, offenders will face court costs determined by a judge and, if convicted of three or more moving violations in a 12-month period, they could have their driver’s license suspended.
Data from Illinois State Police indicate that texting while operating a motor vehicle renders a person 23 times more likely to get into a collision, according to the report.
Officials in Illinois are presently taking additional steps to crack down on distracted drivers.
For example, state troopers have joined forces with truckers and are riding along in their semis so they have a higher vantage point from which to view other motorists, according to a report by WRKO.
When a trooper spots someone using a cell phone while driving, they radio to patrol cars on the road and another officer then pulls over the offender. Troopers issued 13 citations on the first day they took up this latest practice, reports WRKO.
The pending 2019 law and this latest law enforcement tactic are just two of the ways Illinois is aiming to deter distracted driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting while driving is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. NHTSA data shows that at least 25% of police-reported crashes involve some form of distracted driving.