CHICAGO – August 6, 2009. Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill today at Northeastern Illinois University that bans motorists from sending text messages while driving in Illinois. Additionally, the governor signed legislation that makes it illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving through a highway construction zone or school speed zone. The new laws go into effect on January 1, 2010.
“This legislation will save lives and make the roads safer for our loved ones,” said Governor Quinn. “We want everyone to know that distracted driving will not be tolerated in Illinois.”
House Bill 71 was sponsored by Rep. John D’Amico (D-Chicago), Rep. Bill Black (R-Danville), and Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero). The measure makes it illegal to compose, send or read text messages, instant messages and e-mail on a cell phone or surf the internet while driving. The ban also includes personal digital assistants and portable or mobile computers, but does not include global positioning systems (GPS) or navigation systems.
Governor Quinn also signed House Bill 72, which makes it illegal to use a cell phone while driving through a school speed zone or in a highway construction zone unless they are using a hands-free device. Drivers will still be allowed to use a cell phone in voice-activated mode or for emergency purposes. HB 72 was sponsored by Rep. D’Amico, Rep. Black, and Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-Crystal Lake).
“I would like to commend Governor Quinn for signing this important road safety legislation,” said Secretary of State Jesse White.
Illinois is among less than 20 other states in the nation that have adopted bans on texting while driving. Next month, senior transportation officials, elected officials, safety advocates, and law enforcement representatives will convene in Washington, D.C. to hold a summit on distracted driving.
Governor Quinn was joined at the bill signing ceremony by Secretary of State White; Sen. Sandoval; Rep. D’Amico; Mike Stout, Director of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety; Janet Froetscher, President and CEO of the National Safety Council; Sasha Marcinczyk, Assistant Vice President of AAA Chicago; Sharon Hahs, President of Northeastern Illinois University; and Chuck and Gloria Wilhelm, parents of Matt Wilhelm, who was killed by a distracted driver.