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Applying Chicago Distracted Driving Laws to Cyclists

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Applying Chicago Distracted Driving Laws to Cyclists

Chicago was on the forefront of enacting legislation prohibiting cell phone use without a hands-free device while driving in 2005 and has subseqently banned texting and driving. Now the city council has proposed a similar ban for bicylists, which makes sense to our Chicago personal injury lawyers.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the ordinance proposes that “‘No person shall operate a bicycle while using a communication device’ that includes a cell phone, PDA, portable or mobile computer designed to transmit and receive e-mails, texts or other electronic messages. It would carve out an exception for hands-free cell phones, as the rules for motorists do.”

The current exception to the bans on motorists’ cell phone use includes:

  • Operators of emergency vehicles and police officers “on duty and acting in their official capacities”
  • Drivers using cell phones while parked
  • Motorists calling 911

The Transportation Department spokesman and the Active Transportation Alliance executive director both support the proposed ordinance and its objectives. They, as well as Chicago personal injury attorneys, know how dangerous distracted driving (and riding) can be. Anything that takes a driver or cyclist’s attention away from navigating their mode of transportation can be a serious hazard.

Texting While Driving

A recent study published by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society indicates that cell phones cause more than 2,600 motor vehicle related deaths and 330,000 injuries per year. There has not, as yet, been a similar study corresponding to bicyclists but you can imagine that there would be a correlation. And because a driver who is texting is 20 times more likely to get into an accident than one who isn’t, our Chicago personal injury attorneys might guess that the same is true for a cyclist.

The big difference is that a distracted cyclist may be more of a danger than a motorist, in some situations. If they were not paying attention and collided with another object or even a motor vehicle, they would likely sustain more serious injuries than if they had been traveling at the same speed in a motor vehicle.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident caused because another person was distracted by talking or texting on their cell phone, contact a Chicago personal injury attorney right away. The Malman Law team has experience with Chicago cell phone accidents and can help.

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