Each day, 10 people are killed in distracted driving crashes – contributing to the 37,000 people killed in crashes on U.S. roadways during 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
To help bring attention to the dangers associated with driving distracted, the University of Illinois Police Department announced today it will again participate this week in Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week (April 23-27) and conduct an enforcement campaign of Illinois’ distracted driving laws.
“The number of people hurt in distracted driving accidents is a really troubling statistic and something we take very seriously,” said U. of I. Police Lt. John Brown. “We’re not necessarily looking to write a bunch of tickets this week, but we do really need people to understand the dangers of distracted driving.”
The University of Illinois Police Department is not only asking drivers to be cognizant of roadway dangers – on a campus where 60,000 or more people are traveling to and from class or work each day, bicyclists and pedestrians must also be engaged as responsible roadways users.
“Distracted walking or bicycling and disobeying traffic control devices like stop signs and one-way streets is right up there with distracted driving and some of the most prevalent ways people can get hurt,” Brown said. “We’re using this week as an opportunity to remind people about sharing the road and respecting other roadway users.”
The second annual Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week is a coordinated effort between the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police (ILACP), AAA, The Illinois State Police, The Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois High School and College Driver Education Association (IHSCDEA) and nearly 300 local law enforcement throughout Illinois to educate motorists about the dangers of driving while distracted and enforcing the laws on Illinois’ roadways. Last year’s DDAW efforts resulted in over 18,000 warnings and citations for distracted driving offenses.
Contrary to what some drivers may think, hands-free, handheld and in-vehicle technologies are not distraction-free, even if a driver’s eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. The latest AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research found that:
- Drivers who text when behind the wheel more than double their odds of being involved in a crash;
- Drivers who use in-vehicle technologies, like voice-based and touch screen features, can be distracted for more than 40 seconds when completing tasks like programming navigation or sending a text message.
- Removing eyes from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk for a crash
Violating Illinois’s distracted driving laws can be costly. Know before you go. In Illinois:
- All drivers are prohibited from texting and driving
- Almost all drivers are prohibited from using a hand-held phone while driving
- The law prohibits all teen drivers from using a cell phone while driving
These partnerships have been formed to help further a traffic safety culture in Illinois and to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries resulting from distracted driving. Everyone is asked to help the ILACP, AAA, and the University of Illinois Police Department keep Illinois’ roadways safe and Illinois strong.