April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Online Staff Report

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White (D) is reminding people to travel safely and avoid driving while distracted as April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

As the weather warms and travel increases, I encourage everyone to put away their cell phones while they are behind the wheel and focus completely on the task at hand: driving safely,” White said. “Studies show that distracted driving contributes significantly to otherwise preventable fatal crashes.”

A recent study commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that was conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that the use of handheld cell phones increase the risk of a crash by three times. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2012, more than 3,300 people were killed in crashes involving distracted driving.

Texting while driving is perhaps the most dangerous form of distracted driving. According to NHTSA, driving while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while drunk and texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers not texting.

Illinois has been a national leader in efforts to combat distracted driving. White was chairman of the state’s Distracted Driving Task Force, which led to the state’s ban on texting while driving in 2010. More than 5,000 people have been convicted of texting while driving since that law took effect Jan 1.

Jan. 1, 2014, the new state law banning handheld cell phones while driving took effect. In the law’s first three months, more than 2,800 drivers having been convicted for texting, talking or dialing on a handheld cell phone.

Posted April 2, 2014

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