FILE - Illinois, Steve Stadelman, 2016

Illinois Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Rockford, speaks to reporters at the Illinois State Capitol in 2016 in Springfield.

Several new and updated driving laws go into effect in Illinois on New Year’s Day.

Drivers will have to pay increased fines for Scott’s Law violations, reckless driving, passing a stopped school bus, speeding in a construction zone, and striking a construction worker in a work zone.

Lawmakers earlier this year also passed an update to the state’s distracted driving laws, adding clarity to the rules about using video streaming devices while driving.

State Sen. Steve Stadelman of Rockford sponsored Senate Bill 86. During the floor debate of the bill, he said there was some concern about the clarity of existing state law.

“This legislation specifically states that watching video on a personal electronic device will not be allowed,” he said.

Statistics provided by Stadelman from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 9 people were killed every day in the United States from distracted driving. Stadelmann also provided a report by the EverQuote EverDrive app that found 40 percent of unsafe driving behavior monitored by the app was caused by phone use. 

“Video streaming as we know has [been] becoming more and more popular,” Stadelman said. “Unfortunately, there have been incidents across the country of drivers watching videos on their personal cell phones or other electronic devices while they’re driving.”

Fines for using a streaming device start at $75.

Although it is not a new law, there will be more of an emphasis on Illinois drivers using the zipper technique to merge into traffic.

Illinois State Police Sgt. Delila Garcia said that beginning in 2020, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office will include the zipper merging technique as part of the Rules of the Road handbook.

“Drivers in merging lanes are expected to use both lanes to advance to the lane reduction point and merge at that location, alternating turns,” Garcia said.  

The inclusion into the Rules of the Road book means that anyone getting a driver's license will be responsible for knowing the proper way to merge and could be tested on it as part of getting an Illinois driver’s license.

Staff Reporter

A Chicago area radio news veteran, Jim Moran covers statewide issues for The Center Square. Previously, he has worked as a news reporter/anchor and traffic reporter for numerous radio stations across Illinois and the St. Louis metro area.