“Drive Now. Text Later.” Campaign Aiming to Reduce Risks of Distracted Driving Car Accidents in Illinois

You may have heard about the “Drive Now. Text Later.” campaign launched by theIllinois Tollway Authority, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police, Illinois Secretary of State and AAA Chicago. This awareness campaign urges drivers to put down their cell phones and to stop texting behind the wheel in an attempt to reduce the risks of a car accident in Illinois.

Our Chicago personal injury attorneys understand that drivers are already banned from using a cell phone and texting while driving within the city, but without strict enforcement efforts drivers will continue engaging in the dangerous driving habit and endangering motorists statewide. Statewide, motorists are forbidden from texting while driving and from using cell phones in school zones or at road construction sites. This campaign seeks to get the word out about the risks … and the law.Across the United States, nearly 5,500 people were killed in traffic accidents that reported the involvement of a distracted driver in 2009 alone. Another 500,000 people were injured in these accidents. These fatalities represent nearly 20 percent of all of the traffic fatalities for the entire year.

“We must adopt a no tolerance attitude on this issue,” said pediatric emergency physician Dr. Charles Nozicka. “We have to pay attention to the task at hand. Put the cell phone down. Stop texting and driving. One accident can change a life forever.”

Drivers under the age of 20 have the biggest proportion of distracted drivers. Nearly 20 percent of the drivers in this age group that were involved in a fatal accident were reported to have been driving while distracted, according to the Lake County News-Sun.

“This new challenge comes as a result of technology, and at face value, nothing really inherently dangerous, just your cell phone or your Blackberry. Let’s be honest, texting and e-mailing isn’t going to go away anytime soon and neither is talking on the phone,” said Kristi Lafleur, Illinois Tollway Authority executive director.

Here are some tips to help you avoid being involved in a distracted driving accident:

-Put your cell phone in the glove box or in your center console, turned off, while you’re driving. Think “out of sight, out of mind.”

-Display a “Drive Now. Text Later.” campaign decal on your window to remind both yourself and other drivers to stop texting while driving. You can order one of these from the Illinois Tollway website.

-If you need to use your cell phone, pull over and stop in a safe location before you do.

-If you have to answer the phone while you’re driving, do so on a hands-free device.

-Don’t send or read any text messages while driving.

-If you’re listening to the radio, use the volume and station buttons on the steering wheel instead of reaching for the center console.

“As an emergency physician and father of four, the issue of distracted driving has been a key component of my professional and parenting practice,” Nozicka said. “Life does not supply our teen drivers with a ‘reset button.’ Studies have shown that distracted driving is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.”

A distraction happens when you either take your eyes off the road, take your hands off the wheel or taking your mind off driving. Texting is the most deadly of distracting driving habits because it combines all three distractions simultaneously.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, the personal injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

Additional Resources:

Illinois urges ‘Drive Now. Text Later’, by Evelyn Holmes, ABC 7 News
Drive Now. Text Later – Illinois Agencies Partner to Raise Awareness of the Dangers of Texting While Driving, by Village of Skokie, Trib Local
More Blog Entries:

National Safety Council Takes Nominations for 2011 Teen Driving Safety Leadership Award – Many Nominate Secretary of State Jesse White
, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, July 5, 2011
Safe Driver Act of 2011 Could Increase Distracted Driving Laws in Illinois, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, July 1, 2011
NHTSA Releases Stats for Car Accidents in Chicago and Elsewhere, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, June 24, 2011

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