Drop the Distractions and Drive
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving was a direct cause of vehicle crashes resulting 2,841 deaths in 2018. Among those killed: 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians, and 77 bicyclists. Distracted driving includes any activity that takes the driver’s attention away from operating the vehicle, including reaching for an item dropped between or under the seat, arguing with other passengers or children, applying makeup or shaving. While these activities may seem harmless, they still cause the driver to divert their attention from what is going on around them. Remember, a vehicle traveling at 25 miles per hour covers almost 37 feet per second and at when traveling at 45 miles per hour, 66 feet per second. One second distracted can lead to a life of change.
Cell phones, or electronic communication devices as they are known in Illinois’ law, are a main source of distraction in the vehicle. Per Illinois state law, "Electronic communication device" means an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a hand-held wireless telephone, hand-held personal digital assistant, or a portable or mobile computer, but does not include a global positioning system or navigation system or a device that is physically or electronically integrated into the motor vehicle. Whether it is looking for a contact to make a phone call, checking social media, or trying to take that perfect driving “selfie,” resisting the urge to use your cell phone is important to safe driving. It may be tempting to check that latest notification from your favorite app or just take a quick peek at a text message, but recall the distances stated above.
State law on distracted driving (625 ILCS 5/12-610.1) states that a driver may not use an electronic communication device while operating a vehicle on the roadway unless it is an emergency situation or they are using a “hands-free” device. Holding your cell phone in your hand while it is on speaker phone does not count as “hands-free.” As of July 2019, any ticket for using an electronic communication device while driving is a moving violation. Three moving violations in the course of one year will result in a suspension of one’s license.
April is traditionally Distracted Driving Awareness Month, with an increase in education efforts with radio and television ads as well as increased enforcement efforts by law enforcement agencies including the Huntley Police Department. Due to COVID-19, the official campaign has been postponed this year. But we still ask that you do your part and pay attention to the road every second that you are driving. It may just save your or someone else’s life.
Huntley Safety 1st is the monthly education series written by the staff of the Huntley Police Department. On the first of each month, we provide residents with information on a different public safety related issue.