SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois General Assembly on Monday passed legislation to increase the penalties for texting while driving. 

“This day and age we are attached at the hip, or in this case hand, to our cell phones,” Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb), who introduced House Bill 2386, said. “People need to understand that this can lead to grievous injury and even death while driving. It is simply not worth it and that’s what this legislation is intended to hammer home.”

The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year and that nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving.

The legislation increases penalties for any person who uses an electronic communication device while operating a motor vehicle, and the violation results in an accident causing great bodily harm to any person. The consequence of this illegal action will be the suspension of a driver’s license for one year and a fine of $1,000. 

“It is against the law to text while driving, but that doesn’t seem to stop people,” Hammond said. “It is my hope that by increasing the fine dramatically from the $75 it is now, we can get drivers to think twice before looking down.” 

The bill is supported by both the Illinois Secretary of State’s office and the Illinois Sheriffs Association. HB 2386 passed the Illinois House in April on an 82-24-2 vote and passed unanimously in the Senate on May 16.

The bill now heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk. 

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