The new ban on the use of hand-held cell phones by Illinois drivers has raised several interesting questions about the dangers of distracted driving. A new study has confirmed many of the dangers of distracted driving while producing a single surprising result: Talking on a cell phone while driving may not greatly affect the risk of crashing. The study did not address the issue that many critics use to attack the new ban - that of hands-free versus hand held devices. It simply demonstrated that the activities take your eyes off the road are dangerous, particularly for younger drivers.
January 1, 2014 marked the first day of the Illinois ban on hand-held cell phone use by drivers. The ban is intended to combat car accidents caused by distracted driving. The law has been criticized by some for arbitrarily separating hand-held cell phone use from the use of hands-free devices. Some studies have indicated that there is little difference in terms of the level of distraction between hands-free technology and hand-held technology. State police plan on issuing fines, starting at $75, to drivers who are caught using hand-held devices behind the wheel.
Holidays lead to an increase in traffic volume. The ice and snow that accompany winters in Illinois lead to treacherous driving conditions and car accidents. The Illinois Department of Transportation is working with Illinois State Police and Illinois Tollway to put forth a safety campaign to help drivers deal with the dangers of winter driving. The campaign is called "Ice and Snow - Take it Slow." It emphasizes several measures drivers can take to reduce accidents and protect their loved ones during cold weather months.
On November 26, 2012, Illinois State Trooper Kyle Deatherage was doing his job. He was in the process of conducting a traffic stop when he was struck and killed by a passing vehicle. In remembrance of this tragic accident, Illinois law enforcement personnel are conducting 24 consecutive hours of patrols seeking impaired drivers. The program, known as Operation Kyle, kicks off a larger program of enhanced patrolling that is intended to cover the holiday season. From today until the New Year, Illinois State Troopers as well as local officers and sheriffs will be focusing increased efforts on stopping drivers who are suspected of distracted driving, seatbelt violations, speeding or driving under the influence.
State Farm released its yearly report on distracted driving this week. The report compiles information about dangerous driving behaviors that may contribute to serious car accidents. The report identified a growing tendency among drivers to use cell phones to access the internet while behind the wheel. The increase may be related to a sharp increase in the percentage of older drivers who own cell phones. Smart phones are now the norm for drivers in every age group under 65.
Illinois is among the large majority of states to have enacted a ban against texting and driving. Legislation forbidding the practice is one means of combating the number of serious car accidents involving this form of distracted driving. It is not enough to stop the practice, however. It is important to gain the public's acceptance that texting and driving is dangerous and to view the conduct as a significant threat to safety. A recent study appearing in the International Journal of Sustainable Strategic Management suggests that there is a lot of work to be done to get people to change their behavior.
The increased popularity of cell phones, text messaging and portable electronic gadgets has increased the potential for drivers to become distracted. In response to the rise in distracted driving accidents, automakers and the makers of phones and cell phone applications have offered potential technological solutions to the problem. While additional gadgets and apps may help combat the problem of distracted driving, some safety experts believe that technology will not be enough to stop the increase in distracted driving car accidents.
The use of personal electronic devices has coincided with an increase in the number of accidents attributed to distracted driving. The connection between texting and car accidents has led to texting bans in 41 states, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. A recent study conducted in the first state to pass a texting ban, Washington, showed that a larger than expected percentage of drivers are using electronic devices behind the wheel. Of those using such devices, 45 percent were shown to be using them to send or receive text messages.
With Illinois considering a statewide ban on the use of handheld cell phones by drivers, the measures already enacted by individual communities are drawing attention. Three years ago, the Evanston City Council passed a handheld device ban in an effort to curb distracted driving accidents. Cell phones are considered a primary culprit in the nationwide increase in distracted driving fatalities. Texting while driving has garnered much of the attention, but any diversion of a driver's attention from the road is a safety hazard. With three year's worth of data available, it appears that Evanston's ban may have been successful.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2,700 teens are killed each year in car accidents where a teen driver was under the influence of alcohol. In addition, an estimated 282,000 injuries are suffered in such accidents. According to recent research, that makes drinking and driving the second most deadly behavior among teen drivers. A study conducted by researchers at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park suggested that teen deaths caused by texting drivers total more than 3,000. It estimated that 300,000 injuries result from this form of distracted driving.