Passing a car crash? Don't take a picture, keep driving
Illinois State Police and other local law enforcement agencies have had enough when it comes to drivers taking pictures or videos while passing a car crash.
ISP sent out this reminder to drivers on Friday morning after responding to two crashes in Champaign County.
Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh was quick to echo this message, saying just how common it’s become to see drivers snapping pictures of a crash scene and uploading it to social media.
Like many drivers and social media users, Doreen Gordon said she often sees these kind of posts on her Facebook timeline.
“It's disturbing that they're driving,” Gordon said. “So they can create an accident also.”
While some photos or videos posted to social media are legally taken by a passenger in the vehicle, police are only concerned when the person behind the camera is also the one behind the wheel.
Police say this trend is just as, if not more dangerous than texting and driving.
“The last thing people need to be doing is trying to film that,” Walsh said. “They need to be concentrated on safe driving so they don't hit one of those innocent people involved in the accident.”
According to law enforcement officials, it’s illegal to take a photo or video of a traffic-related incident while driving. However, it’s a rule that can be hard to enforce.
“It's not very realistic for the officers working the accident to try to also issue a separate unrelated ticket,” Walsh said.
Law enforcement officials assume that most people take these pictures and videos to inform their friends on social media about potential traffic delays, but Walsh said “whatever the motivation, it's just not safe to do it.”
For a driver like Gordon, taking a picture is the last thing she’s doing when approaching a crash. Instead, she keeps her hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and leaves the rest to a higher power.
“Say a prayer, an amen, for those people who got hurt,” Gordon said.
Currently in Illinois, the penalty for taking a picture or video of a car crash while driving is a $75 fine, but a recent bill making it’s way through the State House looks to change that.
Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, sponsored House Bill 5635 to increase this fine to $500.
According to Representative Meier’s office, the bill was passed on to the senate in May, but has been at a standstill since then.