Government continues push to reduce distracted driving auto accidents in Chicago, elsewhere

The federal government is launching the “5500 campaign,” a new public service announcement to coincide with the one-year anniversary of FocusDriven, the first nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for victims of distracted driving accidents.

Our Chicago personal injury lawyers frequently report on the dangers of distracted driving. Nationwide, about 5,500 people are killed and 500,000 are injured each year in car accidents caused by distracted driving.”In our new PSA, we want to remind people that each and every distracted driving fatality is someone’s loved one, and that person’s family is in tremendous pain,” said FocusDriven President Jennifer Smith. “Our new campaign will urge the public to put down the phone and focus on the drive. We cannot wait until others are killed or injured to take action. The statistics show that it’s no longer ‘if’ someone you know will be affected by distracted driving, it’s ‘when.'”

The organization’s one-year anniversary was also marked by support from Safeway and the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, which seeks to reduce work accidents in Chicago and elsewhere that are caused by distracted driving. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that about 40 percent of workplace fatalities result from transportation accidents, accounting for 1,682 deaths last year.

“Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic and when it comes to road safety, we will not take a backseat to anyone,” said Secretary Ray LaHood. “That’s why distracted driving will continue to be a major part of DOT’s robust safety agenda. Together with advocates like FocusDriven and NETS, and employers like Safeway, we can put an end to this deadly behavior and save lives.”

As we reported recently on our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, LaHood has come under fire for what some safety advocates see as a hyper-focus on distracted driving, which may come at the expense of focusing on other causes of serious and fatal accidents.

As part of the anniversary, the Department of Transportation also released the latest in the “Faces of Distracted Driving series.” We reported previously on our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog that the series features messages from family members of those killed in distracted driving accidents. One of the most recent features 17-year-old Emily Reynolds. Her older sister Cady was killed in 2007 when a teen texting on her cell phone crashed into Cady’s car in Nebraska.

The “Faces of Distracted Driving” series is available here.

Meanwhile, Safeway grocery stores is the latest employer to implement a distracted driving policy; the company now prohibits its 1,525 truckers from using cell phones — hand-held or hands-free, while driving. Bill Windsor, chairman of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety said 5,000 public and private organizations, representing more than 20 million U.S. employees, have now enacted distracted driving policies.

“Employers can make a real difference in keeping their associates safe both on and off the job by educating them about the dangers of distracted driving and adopting policies to prevent it,” he said.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in the Chicago area, contact Abels & Annes for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

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