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Stay Safe on Chicago Roads: Summer Distracted Driving

Casey Woodruff

Summer weather brings with it a sense of freedom and adventure, but, unfortunately, it can also mean an increase in distracted driving, especially among teenagers. There are substantial national and state efforts aimed at eliminating distracted driving, but public awareness and compliance need to be greater.

What is Distracted Driving?

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Distraction.gov website defines distracted driving as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Those distractions include:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smart phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video

Distraction.gov goes on to state that text messaging is the worst distraction because it “requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver.”

Distracted Driving Statistics:

  • In 2010, 3,092 people were killed in distracted driving crashes and another 416,000 were injured. (Distraction.gov)
  • Eleven percent of all teenagers in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest number of drivers who were distracted. (Distraction.gov)
  • Forty percent of teenagers report that they were in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people at risk. (Pew Research Center)
  • Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute)

Legal and Public Activism Efforts to End Distracted Driving:

In July, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it would expand its national pilot campaign “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other” by $2.4 million. The campaign tests whether augmented law enforcement efforts in combination with public service announcements can convince drivers to stop using their cell phones while driving.

In addition, Illinois has various laws/programs aimed at curbing distracted driving:

  • Illinois bans all cell phone use by novice drivers and bans texting for all drivers.
  • Illinois also has a ban on using cell phones when driving in a highway construction area or a school zone.
  • In 2011, Illinois launched a “Drive Now Text Later” campaign to make people aware that driving while texting is illegal on highways and roads.

Hopefully, more people will be convinced to keep their attention on the road. In the meantime, it is important to be aware of the threat of distracted driving and the potential legal consequences for those who continue to engage in it.

Source: Distraction.gov, “Get the Facts

Our firm often handles situations in which a person may be hit by a distracted driver. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please contact us at (866) 400-4450.

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