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New driving laws in Illinois and Iowa: What you need to know

Lawmakers in Illinois and Iowa made their own New Year’s resolutions for 2014, to reduce the number of traffic accidents.

In Illinois, the new hands-free law will go into effect January 1, 2014.  The law prohibits drivers from using their phone when behind the wheel unless they are using a wireless device such as a Bluetooth.

According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 24 percent off all vehicle crashes are linked to motorists texting or talking on their phone while driving.

Zac Freymann of Illinois is one of those who talks while he drives.  That is, until January 1st.

“I’m guilty of it, obviously, but there are a lot of people who talk on their phones and don’t pay attention,” Freymann said.

Freymann said he will be purchasing a Bluetooth device to use because he supports the new law.

The hands-free law has gotten a lot of attention. But Illinois will also make changes to their interstate speed limit, raising it from 65 to 70 miles per hour.

“It’s not going to be good for us grannies,” Gwendolyn Bourrage laughed.  “I’m a slow driver, so I think it (the speed limit) should go down to 45 the way it used to be.”

Across the river, Iowans will also have to adapt to changes.  Teenaged drivers could be most affected.

Currently, teenagers in Iowa have to maintain their driving permit for six months before they can receive a driver’s license.  Come January 1st, teens will have to possess their driver’s permits for 12 months before graduating to a full driver’s license.

It’s a law that one Iowa teen supports.

“I think it makes sense just because kids will then be able to get more of a feel for the road and the car before they are actually put out there to themselves,” said Annika Schultz, a 13-year-old from Iowa.  “We already have enough traffic deaths.”

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