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Distracted Driving by Law Enforcement

Posted on in Personal Injury
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Distracted Driving, Illinois law, cell phone ban, Illinois car accident lawyerIn the beginning of the year, a new law went into effect in Illinois banning the hand-held use of cell phones while driving. The law is meant to curb distracted driving in the state, but does allow for some exceptions. One such exception is that the law does not apply to police officers, even though they face many more potential distractions while behind the wheel. As one recent article points out, this type of situation resulted in a fatal accident on the roadways of Illinois a few years ago.

The Accident

The day after Thanksgiving in 2007, two sisters were driving from their mother's to their father's home. Having not heard from the girls since the morning when they left, and being unable to reach them, their mother was getting worried. She decided to drive the route they would have taken, but just before she left, the Illinois state police arrived at her home to confirm her worst fear.

She found out that a state trooper was responding to a call, lost control of his car, and crossed over the median. The girls were hit and killed instantly in the crash, which resulted in the highway being closed for five hours. Their mother would later learn that the trooper was operating his vehicle at 126 miles per hour, while at the same time attempting to send an email from the car's computer asking for directions to the scene, and also talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone. He never heard the dispatcher tell him that the scene to which he was traveling was already under control.

The distractions collectively helped lead to deadly consequences. It was the trooper's third crash in the course of his employment, and it was his last. He resigned from his position after pleading guilty to a charge of reckless homicide.

Distracted Officers A review of crash reports across the state of Illinois revealed that over the last three years, there have been 40 crashes due to distracted driving. That number does not account for crashes involving Chicago police or state troopers. Many of the distractions leading to a crash involved the officer looking at a computer while driving. Some of the crashes only resulted in minor property damage, while others resulted in injury to another driver. The case highlighted above seemed to be an anomaly, as seven years later, the review did not reveal another fatal accident involving officer distraction. Changed Policies After that fatal crash in 2007, the Illinois State Police changed some of its policies. For example, there are now restrictions as to how fast a trooper can travel while responding to an emergency call and troopers now must use hands-free cell phones. If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of a car crash in Illinois, contact the experienced accident attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC today. We serve clients in DuPage, Lake, Kendall, and Will Counties, as well as other surrounding suburbs.
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