SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The pandemic forced most people to learn how to use video conferencing apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams on their phones. Now, lawmakers encouraged by Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias are trying to make video calling while driving illegal.
A new bill in the capitol would make driving while on video conference calls, video streams and social media illegal. Video calls would be allowed if the driver is using a hands-free device and is not viewing the video.
“We need to take steps to change the culture surrounding distracted driving, which will lead to more responsible drivers and ultimately save lives,” Giannoulias said. “Zooming takes hands, eyes and minds off the focus of driving.”
The National Safety Council estimated eight people in the U.S. die each day from distracted driving.
“Illinois has been a leader in cracking down on distracted driving, but we need to remain vigilant and continue to refine our laws as new technologies emerge,” Rep. Marcus Evans (D-Chicago), the House sponsor of the legislation, said. “Drivers who Zoom, watch videos or are otherwise engaged in distracted driving aren’t just annoying but pose a serious threat to other drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, first responders and construction workers.”
Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell says he has seen distracted driving remain consistent over the years, despite the laws that Illinois has passed. However, he also said a change like this would be helpful to his deputies, because the distracted driving laws in the state do not account for actions like video calls. Campbell says that currently, citations can only be issued if the driver admits to those specific actions.
“We know what’s going on,” Campbell said. “We know the technologies allowed for this now as becoming very popular. So its something we are concerned about was safety on the roadways.”
If caught violating the proposed bill, drivers would have to pay a fine and get a ticket.
Texting while driving was made illegal in 2010, and using a cellphone without a hands-free device was made illegal in 2014.