The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

Time for Illinois to stop texting while driving

It’s tempting to text someone while driving because it’s convenient. But convenience needs to take a back seat to safety. Too many car accidents are caused while someone is busy texting. A simple solution is to make a phone call or, better yet, wait until you’re not driving to text someone. Whatever you have to say in a text message isn’t nearly as important as your safety.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), cell phone distractions were either the primary or secondary cause of 1,001 automobile accidents in Illinois reported in 2008.

In September 2006, a 25-year-old University graduate was riding his bicycle in Urbana and was killed by a teenage driver downloading ring tones. That inspired Secretary of State Jesse White to create an initiative to cut down on distracted driving, including texting. As part of the initiative, a text messaging ban was proposed. The ban passed in the House on April 1 and will surface in the Senate soon, hopefully followed by Governor Quinn’s signature.

Under the ban, it would be illegal to read, compose or send a text message while driving — even at stoplights. It would also be illegal to be on the Internet or download ring tones while driving.

If you think you’re safe because you can text without looking down at your cellphone, think again. According to Rep. John D’Amico, D-Chicago, police officers can stop you just because they think you’re texting or surfing the Internet. And if you get caught while texting or surfing the Internet, you could be fined with a minimum fee of $75 to a maximum fee of $500. But even worse than those fees would be getting into a car accident and injuring yourself or someone else.

Ten other states and Washington D.C. have similar bans. It’s time for Illinois to add our state to the list. This law could prevent potential harm on the road and save many lives.

It’s time to put down your cell phones, UI, and pay attention to the road ? for everyone’s safety.

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