17:00 PM

Distracted Driving: It's Not Just Talking and Texting on Your Phone

Driving while "intexicated" is against the law

VIDEO FOR REPORTERS – Crash B-Roll / Victim Testimony Sound Bites

AURORA, Ill., (September 30, 2020) — October is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and nationwide, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 3,000 people are killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, contributing to the 36,560 lives lost to crashes on U.S. roadways in 2018.

"Anything that diverts attention from driving – eating and drinking, adjusting the navigation, or picking your next podcast can result in a fatal injury," said Molly Hart, spokesperson for AAA – The Auto Club Group. "Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash."

In 2018, there were 2,839 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted driver, and of those killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, over 17 percent (495) were between the ages of 25-35. Additionally, there were 400 pedestrians and 76 cyclists killed in distraction crashes.

"In regards to hands-free capabilities, motorists need to understand it is not risk-free," continued Hart. "Even with your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, you are not safe unless your mind focuses on the drive."

Here are AAA's Top Tips to Avoid Distractions While Driving:

  • Prepare for your drive. Set vehicle systems like GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time. And please, finish dressing and personal grooming at home – before you get on the road.
  • Don't Drive Intoxicated. Don't Drive Intexticated. The consequences of alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving could be the same: Put aside electronic distractions and never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features.
  • Stay focused. Do not let anything divert your attention. Be sure to actively scan the road, use your mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. If you have passengers, enlist their help as a "designated texter." Ask them to answer your calls, respond to texts and program the navigation.

Illinois Distracted Driving Law: Illinois law prohibits the use of hand-held cellphones, texting or using other electronic communications while operating a motor vehicle. Hands-free devices or Blue Tooth technology is allowed for persons age 19 and older. Even using hands-free technology is considered a distraction while driving and can be dangerous. If you must make a phone call, even with hands-free technology, it is recommended that you pull off to the side of the road before making the call.

The only time Illinois drivers can use a cell phone that is not hands free is:

  • To report an emergency situation.
  • While parked on the shoulder of a roadway.
  • While stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the vehicle is in neutral or park.

Drivers who are in a crash resulting from distracted driving may face criminal penalties and incarceration.

Indiana Distracted Driving Law: The law prohibits motorists from holding or using a cellphone while operating a motor vehicle unless they use hands-free technology such as Bluetooth or a cradle, or need to call 911 in an emergency situation. Violators may face fines of up to $500

Sobering statistics

  • Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.
  • Five seconds of reading an email or text is like driving across a football field while blindfolded.
  • Mental distractions last longer than you think and can cause a dangerous crash or fatality. Mental distraction can last up to 27 seconds after dialing, texting or changing the radio station.
  • New teen drivers are 3x as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash. Florida has a graduated driver licensing system to help 15-year-olds gradually learn the rules of the road under less risky conditions.

For more information, visit AAA.com/dontdrivedistracted.

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