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Has Text Messaging Caused an Auto Accident? Who’s Liable?

Casey Woodruff

texting while drivingHave you been driving in Chicago and noticed a person behind the wheel who’s texting and driving? Any form of distracted driving can cause a serious or even deadly auto accident. When a driver’s distraction results in a car crash, that driver’s negligence can make her liable for the injuries sustained by other passengers.

What do you need to know about text messaging and driving?

Learning More About Illinois Texting Laws

Since January of 2014, Illinois has banned the use of handheld devices for drivers. This new law concerning texting while driving (625 ILCS 5/12-610.2) emphasizes that certain electronic communication devices are prohibited if you’re on the road and behind the wheel. The law does permit hands-free technology, such as the use of Bluetooth or headsets, but you absolutely may not text and drive in our state.

Specifically, the law says that “a person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device to compose, send, or read an electronic message.” And the law defines electronic communication devices as cell phones and other devices that can be used to compose, read, or send electronic messages. In most cases, if a driver decides to text and drive, you may be able to hold her liable for injuries you sustained in an accident caused by her distraction. However, the law does cite a few exceptions to the texting and driving ban, including but not limited to:

  • Texting to report an emergency situation;
  • Texting while parked on the shoulder; and
  • Texting while the car is stopped in traffic and the vehicle is in neutral or park.

If a driver texts while behind the wheel in one of those situations, the driver may not be liable for injuries that result from a car accident. However, you should always discuss your case with an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer. Each case is different, and the precise facts of your situation will determine who can be held liable for your injuries.

Distracted Driving Facts and Figures

According to Distraction.gov, the U.S. government’s website for distracted driving, texting on the road is more dangerous than most people think. For instance, some of the following facts and figures emphasize the dangers of distracted driving:

  • More than 3,000 people died in auto accidents caused by distracted driving in 2013 alone. That same year, about 424,000 people sustained serious injuries in accidents resulting from distracted driving.
  • Drivers in their teens and 20s are particularly at risk for distracted driving. Statistics suggest that nearly 30 percent of all distracted drivers in fatal crashes are in their 20s, while 10 percent of all distracted drivers were in their teens.
  • About 660,000 drivers across the country “at any given daylight moment” are talking on their cell phones or texting while driving, regardless of cell phones bans in each state.
  • Sending a text requires you to take your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds. If you’re driving at 55 miles per hour, that’s the same amount of time you’d need “to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.” In other words, texting requires a driver’s eyes to be off the road for much too long. 

Contact a DuPage County Accident Attorney

It’s important to understand the Illinois texting laws and to ensure that you have an experienced Naperville car accident attorney on your side who can help you to seek financial compensation for your injuries. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans today.

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