Texting while driving remains largely unchecked due to several factors on local roadways. (photo by Jason Weaver/flickr)
By Zach Dietmeier
BLOOMINGTON - The McLean County State's Attorney's office says texting and driving convictions are not prevalent locally.
Texting and driving has been illegal in Illinois for three years, but most local drivers haven't necessarily changed their bad habits. Since the new law went into effect in Jan. 2010, Assistant State's Attorney Sheila Duncan says she hasn't seen many cases in court.
"There's violations for having a phone in a school zone, but as far as texting we're just not seeing any," Duncan said. "I think it's hard for the officers to actually observe, just because of the nature of the way a cell phone can be held in vehicle. If the officers can't see the driver texting, they won't write them the ticket."
Duncan wished there was a better system for catching violators.
"I'm not saying it doesn't happen, because it definitely is a problem," Duncan said. "It's just so hard for our officers to enforce."
Other laws such as relaxed window tint provisions came at the same time as texting restrictions, something Duncan called counterproductive.
"The laws changed about two years ago, and the tint is darker now," Duncan said. "Sealt belt violations, texting, and cell phones are harder to find because officers can't see into the vehicles."
Duncan also credited distance from violations and the size of phones as a reason police can't be sure someone is texting. Some advocates of prevention suggest High Visibility Enforcement (HVE) campaigns, such as "Click It or Ticket," or more awareness for current programs like "Drive now. Text Later" as a way to limit texting and driving. Illinois is one of 38 states with a texting ban.
According to IDOT, 24 percent of statewide vehicle accidents last year involved a cell phone.
Zach Dietmeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.