Mt. Vernon Register-News

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December 24, 2013

New traffic laws to go into effect Jan. 1

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With the current speed limit, police typically allow a grace period of 5 to 8 mph over the limit before they issue a ticket, Luechtefeld said.

This means the new 70 mph limit could lead to vehicles traveling at 75 mph, he said. And fast-moving trucks, in particular, can be dangerous due to their considerable “force” and “power,” he said.

“It gets to the point where it’s too fast,” Luechtefeld said.

Authorities say it may take until mid-January before interstate speed limit signs are changed to reflect the new law.

To go along with the higher limit, speeding penalties were also strengthened. Speeding 26 mph over the posted limit is now a Class B misdemeanor, and speeding 35 mph or more over the limit is a Class A misdemeanor.

Another new traffic law for 2014 bans the use of hand-held cell phone devices while driving. It also goes into effect Jan. 1.

The state already has a law prohibiting texting and driving. The new legislation, though, goes a step further and bans all talking on cell phones while driving, unless you are using hands-free technology.

“Distracted driving is very dangerous,” said State Rep. John D’Amico, D-Chicago, the lead sponsor of House Bill 1247. “I think it’s something that adds to the accidents on our roadways.”

Violators of the law will be fined a maximum of $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, $125 for a third offense and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense.

Not included in the ban are Bluetooth headsets, earpieces and voice activated commands.

Also, law enforcement officers, first responders, drivers reporting emergencies and drivers using devices while parked on the shoulder are exempt from the legislation.

“The bottom line is we need to concentrate on keeping our hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road,” D’Amico said.

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