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Friday, January 11, 2008

Distracted Drivers Task Force

Illinois' Distracted Drivers Task Force began hearings this week to study the problem of distracted driving in Illinois, with particular attention to the impact of recent communications technology.

During a hearing in Springfield, the task force heard from the parents of Urbana cyclist Matt Wilhelm, who was died in 2006 after he was struck by a car driven by a woman who was downloading a cell phone ring.

State Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, and state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, sponsored legislation creating the task force in response to the death of Gloria and Chuck Wilhelm's son.

"We can't legislate common sense, but we need a deterrent to selfish and reckless behavior," Gloria Wilhelm testified at the task force's first meeting on Wednesday, according to the News-Gazette.

The task force is required to give its final report to the General Assembly by July 1. The next public hearing by the task force headed by Secretary of State Jess White will be at 11 a.m. Feb. 19 at the James Thompson Center in Chicago.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that efforts will continue to create the offense of "negligent vehicular homicide." If the bill is passed, a motorist found guilty of the offense in a fatal accident could face up to a year in jail.

The legislation, prompted by Matt Wilhelm's death, stalled in the General Assembly last session, stalled despite having been passed by the House.

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