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New Laws for Cellphone Use While Driving

CHAMPAIGN-

Distracted driving is one of the four leading causes of fatalities on the road and officials say those numbers are on the rise.

Starting next week two new laws will take effect adding to the other laws currently in place to help minimize the use of cellphones while people are behind the wheel.

Right now, if you're within 500 feet of an emergency zone and are using your cellphone, that is illegal in the state of illinois.

Illinois State Trooper, Tracy Lillard says that they're cracking down on drivers who are more focused on their phone than on the road.

"Anytime you see emergency lights onthe side of the road, that's the time you need to pay attention to whats on the road up ahead and not necessarily whats going on on your phone or in the car," Lillard said.

Starting January 1, commercial drivers will not be allowed to text or use hand held cell phones while driving. Truck driver, Mike Garwood agrees with the new law but there should also be more laws aimed at those who drive and talk on their phone.

"There was a car full of people and the lady driving was talking on her cell phone and she pulled in and she didn't see me because she didn't turn her head because she had it hooked up to the cell phone," Garwood said. "Yeah, it's dangerous, there's no doubt about it."

Another new law for 2013 makes it illegal to use cell phones in all work zones and according to Trooper Lillard, district 10 in East Central Illinois, is the highest in the state for arresting distracted drivers.

"A lot of times people will admit to what they were doing they'll say 'yeah I was looking at fantasy football scores, yea I was playing solitaire, I was at the stop light, I was checking facebook.' That's not something you need to be doing while traveling down the road," Lillard said.

Officials say if you are pulled over while on your phone, breaking any of the new cell phone restrictions, you can get a fine of up to $250.

According to a report, more than four thousand traffic stops were made last year in Illinois for individuals who were texting while driving and using cell phones through school zones and work zones.