Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed two (2) traffic safety bills into law this month. Both will take effect in July 2019. The first law creates stiffer fines for the use of a phone while driving. The new law, makes the penalty $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second, $125 for a third and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense. Under current law, drivers get a warning and no fine the first time.
I guess you could say this is a step in the right direction, but I do not believe these new penalties go far enough. I don’t think these fines are enough of a deterrent for drivers to put their phones down while driving. Also, I don’t see any changes or stricter penalties for distracted drivers who cause car accidents that involve property damage or personal injury. As I have written over and over in the past, unless there are higher fines and/or stricter penalties, drivers will continue to to text and drive.
The other new law adds the “Dutch Reach” method of opening car doors to Illinois’ Rules of the Road manual and adds bike safety questions to the state driver’s license exam.The Dutch Reach encourages drivers and passengers to use the hand farthest from the door to reach across the body to open the door after parallel parking. This prods people in motor vehicles to look back for cyclists and other traffic, and can help prevent sometimes-fatal “dooring” crashes.
Those of us who live in the city know that “dooring” accidents are common and incredibly dangerous. It is important for drivers to always look and use caution before opening their driver side door when parked on busy street in order to avoid oncoming cyclists. This is a step in the right direction by educating drivers of their responsibility to protect bicyclists.