As we ring in the new year, there are some news laws in Illinois going into effect tomorrow.
As of January first, it's illegal for anyone to text, send texts or read any electronic messages while behind the wheel. If you are caught texting and driving, the fine for the first offense is a $75 ticket. When this new law takes effect, Illinois will join 18 other states that already have a ban on texting and driving.
Another important law to know about - Police will also be able to pull you over and ticket you for texting or even talking on cell phones when traveling through a school zone or construction zone. If caught, that ticket will also cost you 75 bucks.
You can still use hands-free devices in those areas and it's not illegal to talk on a cell if its an emergency situation.
The new law banning the use of talking or texting on cell phones in work and school zones has raised a couple of questions with some local parents. They contacted KHQA wondering if the law still applied to parents who may be behind the wheel, but *parked* in a school zone waiting for their children to be released from school.
We posed this question to Captain Patrick Staples, District 20 Commander with the Illinois State Police. He says the law applies only to folks *operating* moving vehicles in these zones.
Captain Staples said, "If you're pulled off the roadway and you're parked, you're allowed to use your cell phone or if you have a blue tooth or voice activated phone, you're allowed to use that."
It will also be illegal for any person under the age of 19 with an instructional permit or graduated drivers license to use a cell phone while driving.
State Police say studies show distracted driving, like using your cell phone to text or talk causes up to 25 percent of all accidents.
District 20 Commander Captain Patrick Staples says these new laws will make the roads safer for everyone.
Captain Staples said, "I think it allows an individual to be a better driver as far as being attentive to what's going on around them. It's not just what you do but what people are doing around you."
Another new law, starting tomorrow in Illinois, semi trucks will now be able to travel 65 miles per hour on rural interstates.
Also new for 2010, owners of neighborhood or low speed vehicles on the road now have to be titled and registered with the Illinois Secretary of State's office. Low speed vehicles are basically small, energy efficient cars, which can only operate at speeds of 25 miles per hour or less.
The cars also have to be certified with the U-S Department of Transportation.
The new law allows vehicles to travel through any municipality, as long as they only travel on roads of posted speed limits of 30 miles per hour or less. But each individual city has the option to prohibit vehicles if they chose. Right now the city of Quincy allows slow moving vehicles as long as they are registered with the city.