Distracted driving in Illinois is a significant safety concern

Recently, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White issued a press release imploring people to avoid driving while distracted. White reiterated that distracted driving causes otherwise preventable Illinois automobile crashes. He noted that texting while driving is probably the most dangerous form of distracted driving. Indeed, it is six times more dangerous to drive and text than to drive while drunk. White strongly urged Illinois residents to obey the new Illinois law banning cell phone use while driving. White's message is simple: Every time drivers engage in distracted driving by taking their eyes off the road, they put in jeopardy not only themselves but their passengers and other motorists.

According to the United States Department of Transportation, thousands of people are killed in distracted driving crashes each year. An estimated 421,000 people suffer injuries annually in motor vehicle crashes caused by a distracted driver. At any given daylight moment in the United States, an estimated 660,000 people are either using a cell phone or are manipulating an electronic device of some kind while attempting to steer a motor vehicle. Studies indicate that distracted and inattentive driving often leads to head-on collisions when an inattentive driver crosses over the centerline without even noticing. Head-on collisions present a major risk of the accident being fatal or producing severely incapacitating injuries.

New technologies are making the distracted driving problem worse. The author of a recent article in Governing Magazine says that when he first used the new highway navigational app Waze his first two thoughts were: (1) that the app was extremely useful; and (2) it was extremely dangerous. According to the author, the problem was the almost overwhelming amount of information being displayed on the app about road conditions, traffic jams and available alternate routes. Additionally, the Waze app is interactive since it encourages people to use the app to provide eyewitness information on real-time road conditions in order to help keep information current. The concern is that the more time spent fiddling around with the Waze app, the more time drivers have taken their eyes off the road. Even hands-free use of Waze would not be safe due to the mental distraction.

Safety tips

According to the Illinois State Police, the following are some tips to help you avoid an automobile accident caused by distracted driving:

  • Pull the car over to talk, text or otherwise use your smartphone.
  • Adjust seat positions, sound systems and other devices before you begin driving.
  • If available, use presets for radio and climate controls or have a passenger assist you.
  • Do not groom, read or otherwise multi-task while driving a car.
  • Pull over in order to attend to children. Do not attempt to handle a child while driving.
  • Pull over in order to eat a meal. If you cannot refrain from having a bite to eat while driving, try to avoid eating messy foods.

Suing for injuries

Smartphones and other electronic devices have become so intertwined with our lives that it is easier than ever to be distracted while driving. However, a car crash is not excusable simply because someone felt compelled to send a text or check their navigational app. Do not allow yourself to be the uncompensated victim of a distracted driver. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a distracted driver, you need to call an attorney as soon as possible. An Illinois attorney with experience at handling motor vehicle accident cases can assist you in seeking monetary compensation from the negligent driver.