We once thought that the most dangerous behaviors among teen drivers were drunk driving or failure to wear seatbelts. Now we know that using a cell phone — either talking on the phone or texting — represents a similarly grave threat when teens get behind the wheel.
A recent study reveals a lot about teen-age drivers and how they use their electronic devices when they should be paying attention to the road.
The study, funded by Bridgestone Americas Inc., surveyed 2,012 young drivers and found that both boys and girls showed bad judgment while driving. A summary of the study says, “[o]nly one-third of respondents believe talking on the phone while driving is dangerous.” About one-third of drivers admitted to reading text messages at least occasionally while driving and one-fifth said they type text messages at least occasionally while driving.
Young women drivers admitted to engaging in risky behavior more often than their male counterparts. It’s not just talking on the phone and texting that caused the young women to divert their focus from the road. Eighty-six percent of the female drivers reported that they changed music on the car stereo while driving.
The Bridgestone study also found that many teens are “in denial about their distracted driving tendencies and do not believe they are truly at risk.”
Another key finding of the study: Many teens reported their own parents text or make calls on cell phones while driving. So parents sometimes model bad behavior for their children. Other sources of distracted driving include: eating, applying makeup, changing clothes, talking to friends or changing CDs.
Illinois laws are clear on the subject of distracted driving. All drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. Cell phones (both hands-free and hand-held) are banned among novice divers, in other words, those under 19. Illinois law also bans drivers from using cell phones while in a highway construction or school zone.
Illinois courts have been clear on the issue of distracted driving. The seminal case in this area is Grass v. Hill, 94 Ill App 3d 709 (2d Dist. 1981). There, the 2nd District Appellate Court noted that the defendant’s failure to maintain a proper lookout while engaged in a dangerous passing maneuver was the sole proximate cause of the collision.
There’s also Pantlen v. Gottschalk, 21 Ill App 2d 163, 170 (3d Dist. 1959), where the 3rd District Appellate Court noted, “One cannot look with an unseeing eye and not see the danger which he could have seen by the proper exercise of his sight.”
Several other cases end in the same finding. See, e.g., Krause v. Henker, 5 Ill App 3d 736, 739 (lst Dist. 1972).
Kreisman Law Offices has been promoting safety for its clients and community for more than 36 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Skokie, Chicago (Pulaski Park), Chicago (Rogers Park), Chicago (Humboldt Park), Oakbrook Terrace, Yorkfield, Westchester, Clarendon Hills, Glen Ellyn, Hinsdale, Western Springs and Blue Island, Illinois.
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