A new proposal from Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias will make Illinois roads safer by prohibiting the use of Zoom calls while driving.
As more people have begun working from home since the pandemic, the popularity of applications like Zoom, FaceTime, Teams and WebEx has grown substantially, leading many motorists to conduct video conference calls from their driver’s seat.
“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. Our goal is that a combination of increased education, stronger laws and tougher enforcement will encourage drivers to change bad behaviors for the better.”
House Bill 2431, sponsored by State Representative Marcus C. Evans, Jr. (33rd District – Chicago) and State Senator Javier Cervantes (1st District – Chicago), would make it illegal to use a cell phone or other device to watch or participate in video conferencing, streaming videos or accessing any social media site.
“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,” Evans 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.”
“We need to create the same kind of stigma for distracted driving that now exists for drunk driving,” Cervantes said. “Raising awareness and passing common-sense legislation like this can help achieve that same success when it comes to texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving like video conferencing.”
Under the proposal, motorists would still be able to participate in video conference calls while driving but only if they use a hands-free device and if its video is turned off.
Violating the law would result in a moving violation ticket and a maximum fine of $75 on the first offense, $100 on the second offense, $125 on the third offense and $150 for all future offenses. Three moving violations in a year will result in a license suspension.
Last year, 12,700 drivers were convicted of distracted driving. Nationwide, distracted driving kills more than 3,000 people each year, or about eight each day, according to the National Safety Council.
The first Illinois law prohibiting texting while driving went into effect in 2010. Four years later, Illinois banned cellphones while driving without the use of a hands-free device.