April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the Lombard Police Department is partnering with the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois State Police, and law enforcement agencies throughout the state to remind drivers to drop their phones or pay up.
The Lombard Police Department tickets for distracted driving year-round, including 1,743 cell phone use tickets issued in 2019. During the Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign, grant funding from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) allows additional Lombard officers to patrol, seeking out violators. Enforcement will include over 100 dedicated hours of extra enforcement, including during Distracted Driving Awareness Week from April 6-13.
Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on our roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, 3,166 people died in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2017. While this represents a nine-percent decrease in distracted driving fatalities from 2016, there is clearly more work to be done.
“Every day, you can look out your car window and see a driver using their cellphone,” said Traffic Safety Unit Officer Paula Rojas. “People know that texting and driving is dangerous and illegal, but they do it anyway, and it puts others at risk.”
Texting while driving distracts a driver visually, manually and cognitively. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving blind at 55 miles per hour for the length of an entire football field.
Follow these steps for a safe driving experience:
- If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.
- Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
- Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving. Cellphone use can be habit-forming.
- Put your cellphone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat until you arrive at your destination.
The Distracted Driving enforcement campaign is supported through federal funds administered by IDOT.