Cell phones are a common source of distraction for many drivers and a danger to the safety of other motorists and pedestrians.  Talking on a cell phone while driving substantially increases the risk of having a motor vehicle accident. Studies have shown that drivers who are using cell phones have more accidents and slower reaction times than drivers who are legally drunk. Compounding the danger is the ever-growing number of people using cell phones.

At Stein & Shulman, LLC, our auto accident lawyers in Chicago represent accident victims and their families throughout the Greater Chicago area. If you were struck by a distracted driver our accident attorneys can help protect your rights and pursue a claim against the at-fault driver.

According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 26 percent of motor vehicle crashes in 2012 were attributed to cell phone use while driving. As technology advances, more people are using their cell phones while driving. Whether it is for work, family or social reasons, people are constantly connected and using their cell phones to talk, text, email or browse the Internet while driving. Talking on a cell phone while driving takes the driver’s focus away from safely operating a vehicle on the roadway and usually requires the driver to take one hand off the steering wheel. Not only is the driver distraction, but his or her ability to quickly maneuver and react to traffic lessens.

Every driver on the roadway has a legal duty to other drivers and their passengers to safely operate his or her motor vehicle. When a driver intentionally engages in distracting conduct, such as talking on their cell phone while driving, the driver breaches his or her duty of care and may be held legally responsible for the damage he or she caused. If you pursue a claim at the at-fault driver, their defense may be that you were also responsible for the accident. Illinois adopted modified comparative negligence is the standard for recovery of damages, which means that a victim can recover damages as long as he or she is less than 50% at fault for the injury or damages.  However, if you are found to be 50% or more at fault for the accident and injuries, then you will not be able to recover for the damages.


Under Illinois law, all drivers are prohibited from using handheld cell phones while driving. If you were involved in an accident with a driver who was on their cell phone at the time of the accident, make sure to tell the responding officer at the scene so that the officer may issue a citation. Also, make sure to tell your accident attorney if you believe the at-fault driver was on his or her phone at the time of the accident. Your attorney may subpoena the phone records and use them as power evidence.


Staying off your cell phone in your car is one of those “easier said than done” situations. You know you shouldn’t look at it on the road, but when it lights up or sounds with a new message, it becomes very hard to resist the urge to just quickly read and respond to whatever popped up. The problem is, it takes a lot more time than you think, and you cover a lot of ground, while you’re reading and responding to that text or email. And while you might think you are fine talking on the phone because you don’t have to look at it, talking and holding the phone still take your concentration away from driving, increasing your chances of causing a wreck.

If you are struggling to change your “in-car” cell phone habits, try practicing a few of these tips:

  • Turn on “Do Not Disturb.” In one of the newest iOS updates, Apple included a function that will automatically sense when you are driving and place your iPhone in “Do Not Disturb” mode. The mode silences all incoming alerts and calls so you’re not even tempted to answer them. It does have an override for emergencies, however. If you instead have an Android phone or have not installed a recent Apple update, most current cell phones have some kind of Do Not Disturb function. Get in the habit of turning that on while you drive to prevent distractions.
  • Turn your phone completely off. If you cannot place your phone in a silent mode or are still tempted to use it, turn the phone completely off. There are very few situations in which someone urgently needs to speak to you, so on shorter trips or during your work commute, calls, emails, and texts can wait. Remember, we haven’t always had 24/7 accessibility or even car phones.
  • Keep your phone in your purse or pocket. Another trick to try is keeping your cell phone in your purse or pocket while you drive. Take advantage of the adage “out of sight, out of mind.” When you can’t see your cell phone lighting up, you will be much less likely to grab it while you’re on the road. Remember, this will work best if your phone is on silent. Rings and vibrations will still alert you to your phone’s presence and incoming messages.
  • Turn on the radio. Some people claim they pull out their phones at red lights (which is also illegal in Illinois) because they’re bored or want to catch up on what happened while they were at work. On your daily commute, it can feel a little like autopilot, but turning on a good radio program can keep you focused. If you need a little stimulation while traveling, tune into something that interests you. Especially if you’re looking to catch up, turn on a radio news program. Or simply take the time to unplug and gather your thoughts at the beginning or end of the day.
  • Remember the law. As we note on this page, it is simply the law in Illinois to not use your phone while driving. And that law is in place for important safety reasons. Remember to take that seriously, and keep in mind that you do not violate other safety laws. Treat this law the same way, and refrain from cell phone use until you get to your destination. Almost everything else can wait.


The auto accident lawyers at Stein & Shulman, LLC are committed to helping victims throughout Chicago pursue the compensation they deserve for their injuries.  If you were struck and injured by a distracted driver, we can help you pursue a claim and obtain the compensation you deserve.  For a free consultation, please call our office today at (312) 422-0506.

Stein & Shulman, LLC
134 N LaSalle St, #820
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 422-0506
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