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Local

Cell phone reminders

PRINCETON — Bureau County drivers are reminded once again that it’s against the law to write or read a cell phone text while driving.

Gov. Pat Quinn has declared September as Texting and Driving Awareness Month in Illinois. On Jan. 1, 2011, Illinois became the 17th state in the country to enact legislation banning texting while driving. According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 28 percent of all traffic crashes in 2011 were linked to motorists texting or talking on cell phones.

The Illinois texting law does provide for texting exceptions for drivers who pull over to text or who shift their car into park or neutral to message while stopped in traffic. Fines for violators start at $75.

On Friday, Princeton Police Chief Tom Root said the texting law is a good one. The purpose behind the law is simply to deter any type of accident, which could cause bodily harm or even death, he said.

Explaining the process of making traffic/motorist-related laws, Root said the state reviews annual accident reports sent from law enforcement agencies and then determines what new laws could be needed to protect people. The new law banning texting while driving is a prime example of that process, he said.

Texting while driving is considered a primary law, which means a police officer does not have to see any other type of offense, such as speeding, to pull over a driver. If an officer pulls up by someone and it appears the other driver is texting, the officer can pull over that person. But local officers will not go out specifically looking for texting violations, the police chief said.

Locally, there has not been much of a problem with violators to the new law, Root said.

Concerning another cell phone law, Root also wanted to reminded people that it is against the law to talk on their cell phones while in school zones while the school is in session or has an evening or weekend function, such as a night game. It’s also illegal to talk on cell phones in construction zones, Root said.

Both the texting and school//construction zone laws are good laws, Root said. The idea is to take every measure to keep travelers and pedestrians safe.

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