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State Legislature Considers Tougher Penalties on Texting While Driving

Moody Air Force Base via Creative Commons

People caught texting and driving on Illinois roadways could risk losing their licenses under a measure being considered by state lawmakers.  It’s part of a statewide effort against distracted driving. 

The proposed rule change would up the ante on anyone who breaks the state’s distracted driving law. Instead of just a ticket or warning, anyone who’s caught texting and driving would be hit with a moving violation. 

Those are the kind of tickets that count as strikes against your driving record; after three, your license gets suspended.

State Sen. Cristina Castro (D, Elgin) is behind the rule change.  

“We need to really start enforcing that, as technology continues to evolve and people become more distracted, we need to discourage that bad behavior," she explained.

Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn says the dangers of texting and driving warrants an increase in the penalty.

“Texting is especially dangerous because it not only takes your hands off the wheel, it takes your eyes off the road," he said. "People who do this aren’t just putting their own lives in danger, they’re putting their passengers, other motorists, and nearby pedestrians.” 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates more than 3,400 were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2016. Illinois law enforcement officials say they’re stepping up patrols to look for distracted drivers this week.

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.
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