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Drop It and Drive: A Campaign to End Distracted Driving

Public officials mobilize to get you to put down your cell phone when you're behind the wheel. An open letter to the public.

Distracted driving fines are much higher this year thanks to a change in Illinois law. | Credit: Patch.com
Distracted driving fines are much higher this year thanks to a change in Illinois law. | Credit: Patch.com

“Drop it and drive.”  

Chances are, at some point, you’ve uttered a phrase like that after witnessing someone on the road talking, texting or surfing the Web on their cellphone while driving. 

Statistics confirm what most drivers know, but many continue to ignore: distracted driving is dangerous and deadly.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drivers using hand-held phones are four times more likely to get into an accident causing injuries. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that more than 3,300 fatalities nationwide – about 10 percent of all traffic deaths – occur as a result of distracted driving.

And, in Illinois, nearly 6,000 crashes occurred from 2008 to 2012 in which some form of driver distraction involving a cellphone was cited by police, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Of those, 30 were fatal.

These are preventable tragedies.

Gov. Pat Quinn and Secretary of State Jesse White are leading efforts to help save lives by cracking down on distracted driving. This past summer, Gov. Quinn signed into law a ban on the use of hand-held cellphones while driving in Illinois and increased penalties where use of an electronic device leads to a crash resulting in serious injuries.

The new state law prohibits motorists from talking on all but hands-free mobile phones while driving. Get caught talking, texting or surfing the Web while driving? Under the new law, fines start at $75 for drivers caught using a hand-held cellphone while driving. Drivers could pay $150 for repeat offenses and may eventually have their driver’s license suspended. Drivers who cause fatal crashes while using a hand-held electronic device could wind up serving up to three years in prison.

The tragic results caused by the growing epidemic of distracted driving are why we have come together to launch a new public awareness campaign. Our goal is to educate drivers about the hand-held cellphone ban that took effect Jan. 1, 2014, and remind motorists that if they drive with a phone in one hand, they can expect a ticket in the other.

We are doing our part to spread the word.  But, drivers need to do their part, as well, by making the decision to focus 100 percent on driving every trip, every time.  Together, we can reduce the number of cellphone-related crashes on Illinois roadways. 

For more information about how to participate this important campaign, please visit www.dropitanddriveillinois.com.

Signed,

Hiram Grau, director, Illinois State Police

Kristi Lafleur, executive director, Illinois Tollway

Ann. L. Schneider, secretary, Illinois Department of Transportation

Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State

Brad Roeber, regional president, AAA Chicago

Jordan S. Zoot February 18, 2014 at 01:28 PM
There was NO particular point which is precisely the same as the content of your post.
Granny Gruntz February 18, 2014 at 02:05 PM
CLM: *May I commend you that none of the following have NEVER applied to you! *ONE cannot be distracted: *While reading a newspaper while on the x-way OR any road or street? *While applying makeup when driving? *While putting on pantyhose while driving? **AND Granny has sure seen ALL of the above! *While reaching for a cigarette lighter to light a cigarette OR flick an ash in the ashtray? *While tuning the radio? *While inserting a CD in the dashboard player? *While reaching for a coffee cup, water, a drink in the cup holder? *While reaching around for an object in the back seat? *While turning to reprimand/yell at a child in the back seat? *While talking to a passenger in front or back seat? *While trying to read road/street signs in an unfamiliar area? *While reading a road map? *AND - YOU can HONESTLY STATE that your eyes are CONSTANTLY on the road?, your mind is CONSTANTLY on your driving?, you NEVER think about ANYTHING other than paying attention and focusing on your driving? *THEN, I would commend you, CLM! *WHEE-O-ROSCO! *Diogenes can blow out his light! BECAUSE Diogenes has FINALLY found an honest person!!! *Although I betcha, CLM, you are a man! *One more *question, CLM, do YOU come to a COMPLETE, DEAD STOP at a stop sign? *Look in ALL directions before proceeding? *You do know, don’t you, that a ROLLING STOP IS ILLEGAL! *Of course you do! *YOU are a SAFE driver *YOU are NEVER distracted by ANYTHING! *KUDOS TO YOU, CLM!
Debro Mcgown February 22, 2014 at 08:18 PM
I see people talking & driving on a daily basis since law has went into effect. Nothing is being done though. What can be SO important that you can't wait to make/receive call 'til after your commute?
Stu Pidasso February 23, 2014 at 10:16 AM
I love it when you see these "Women applying makeup and eyeliner while driving!! Would love to say " Honey, there is'nt enough makeup to make you look ptretty!!! Now quit endangering others!!
ed breyer March 17, 2014 at 11:17 PM
Willie Wilmette: Your idea of blocking all cell phones when they are moving is not well thought out. It would prevent passengers in cars and trains from using their phones to text as well. If you witness a crime and want to call the police while following the perpetrator, you couldn't do it if the phone ceases to function because it senses it is moving and shuts off. Please take a few seconds to think through the implications of your proposals.

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