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New law makes most video conferencing behind the wheel illegal

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accident

As a driver, you have enough to worry about as you cruise down the Eisenhower Expressway or even a neighborhood street without seeing a fellow driver in the middle of a video conference while they should be focused solely on the road. Unfortunately, as people spend more and more time in their vehicles, they’ve found ways to do just about as much as they can – and technology will allow – while driving.

The use of hand-held devices for talking or texting behind the wheel was already illegal in Illinois. However, a new law took effect at the beginning of this year that specifically prohibits participating in a video conference unless it’s done using a hands-free device that requires no more than the single push of a button to start and end the conference. If a driver can do it solely through voice-activated means, that’s legal — although not safe.

While Zoom became a popular platform for remote meetings a few years ago, there are now a number of others, including Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. Millions of people use them, and they’re great for allowing people to participate in meetings from home, a vacation spot or while they’re dealing with family or personal matters and can’t get into the office.

Yet, trying to use them, even if you can do it hands-free, while driving is simply too risky. It’s one thing to participate in a meeting while you’re doing a load of laundry or watching the kids. It’s another to do so while maneuvering through traffic.

Are we becoming a nation of Zoom Zombies?

There’s even a name for people who participate in video conferencing while driving. They’re called “Zoom Zombies.” It’s not just being on the call that can detract from a driver’s concentration. In one survey, over half of the respondents said they had difficulty concentrating on driving after being on a video conference call.

All adults know by now that even listening to someone on the phone while driving can be distracting. Additionally, being on a video call means watching other people and being aware that you’re being watched. This can quickly become what’s known as “cognitive overload.”

Unfortunately, this practice can and does lead to serious and fatal crashes far too often. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a distracted or otherwise negligent or reckless driver, remember that you have the right to seek justice and fair compensation. A good first step is to get sound legal guidance to protect your rights.