regional distracted driving month 2023

Police put focus on distracted driving in April

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April is Distracted Driving Awareness month, and it won’t take you long to look around during your travels and see drivers distracted by all sorts of things.

Most people immediately think of people being distracted by their mobile phones, but really the problem can come from any distraction either inside or outside the car.

Palos Park Police will doing their own special enforcement operations this month to reduce distracted driving. Officers will be monitoring specific intersections in the village over the next few weeks to catch distracted drivers who violate red-light traffic signals.

“Even very experienced people, very well versed in texting and technology, are just as likely to be involved in a crash as somebody who is not familiar with texting, trying to text and drive,” Police Chief Joe Miller said.

Palos Heights Police Chief William D. Czajkowski said, “Distracted driving is defined as any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Distractions occur when take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and you take your mind off of driving. Distracted driving jeopardizes drivers, passengers, and bystander safety.

“Reaching for the temperature control, turning to look at the kids, changing the radio station, reaching for a french fry are examples of things that all drivers do at one time or another that can be considered distractions.  Cell phones, with all of the great apps, music, videos, communication tools … and don’t forget that they can actually still make phone calls, too … are the biggest culprits these days.”

People have become used to being in constant contact and having the ability to have answers at the tip of their fingers.  Unfortunately, many of us don’t show the patience to wait for a safe time to do it and don’t want to wait until their drive is over.  The result of all of this distraction is that driver inattention is a factor in over 1.6 million crashes per year in North America.

According to the Illinois State Police, research shows that driving while using a cell phone can pose a serious cognitive distraction and degrade driver performance.  The research indicates that using a cell phone while driving increases your chances of getting in a crash by 400%, and texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to crash.

The law in Illinois does permit the use of a cell phone while behind the wheel, but they can only be used while using a Bluetooth headset or vehicle speakers, earpiece, or voice activated commands.  Even with these restrictions, it is recommended that drivers hold off or pull off the roadway to make phone calls and manipulate your phone, as even using these hands-free devices can be distracting.

To clarify a common question, using a cell phone while holding the device and using the speaker phone is not considered hands free and is a violation of Illinois law.  The only time that a driver in Illinois 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 violate these rules can be ticketed and may face further charges or penalties.  Most importantly, not following these rules and laws could result in serious injury to yourself or others.

It is an unfortunate reality that people are severely injured and killed regularly on roadways because of what seem like simple distractions.

Please make a conscious effort to try and avoid your cell phone and other distractions.  Many cell phones have settings that can help you drive safer by not allowing notifications or other features while driving.  When you have passengers, try to limit interactions and be conscious of paying attention to the roadway.  Always keep both hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.  Most importantly, try and use, simple, common sense and be patient when driving.

No call, text, cheeseburger, or song is worth the consequences that can result from distracted driving.

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