As a bicycle rider, I would like to thank the Illinois House of Representatives for passing their bill (HB 1247) to make it illegal for a person to operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device. The bill is straightforward and simplifies enforcement. While there are other dangerous forms of distracted driving, cellphone usage is widespread, easy to see, and a conscious decision.
Cellphones do not belong in the hands of drivers. Distracted driving needs educational and enforcement campaigns as much as seat belt usage and driving under the influence. These are public safety concerns. Nobody wants to be in or the cause of a fatal crash. I didn't know is not an excuse.
Overall, Illinois' annual fatal crashes have declined below 1,000 from 2009 to 2011. Bicyclists killed increased 12.5 percent to 27 deaths from 2010 to 2011. Another 2,984 cyclists were injured. Distracted driving is not measured, but pedestrians and bicyclists are 17.6 percent of the traffic fatalities and 65 percent of ped/bike crashes are during daylight.
Drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians need to pay attention. Law enforcement needs understandable laws. Sixty-four representatives voted for HB 1247 while 46 voted against, including our local Rep. Dennis Reboletti. The bill now needs a sponsor to move forward, and I hope that our Sen. Thomas Cullerton helps bring this to the Senate floor. Both men are on their transportation committees and should be supporting this measure in the public interest.