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New Laws on Distracted Driving

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Illinois drivers are coming under more pressure to slow down and stay off their cell phones.  

Governor Pat Quinn has signed four laws aimed at making roadways safer.  

"We want to have strict laws that deal with those who greatly exceed the speed limit and cause great harm and loss of life," says Quinn, "and we need to, I think, lay down strict guidelines for our judges and for those in the traffic courts across Illinois, so they know what the rules are."  

Three of the laws confront the problem of drivers becoming distracted by talking and texting on their cell phones.  That is something U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called a "national epidemic."  

One of the measures prohibits the use of cell phones by drivers in all roadwork zones.  The previous restriction only applied to work zones with speed limit reductions.   

It is also now illegal to use a mobile phone while driving within 500 feet of an emergency scene, while another measure bars commercial drivers from hand-held cell phone use.  

Governor Quinn also signed a bill known as Julie's Law, which increases penalties for serious speed-limit violations.  

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.