For years, the Illinois Tollway has fought against the increase in distracted driving across our system. In 2009, the Illinois Legislature first took on the issue of distracted driving by advancing a state law banning texting while driving. In response to this new law, the Tollway joined forces with elected officials and the transportation industry by launching the Drop It and Drive campaign to raise awareness of the dangers and penalties for holding a phone while driving.
This year, Illinois is taking these efforts a step further, tightening restrictions and increasing penalties for the use of handheld cell phones and electronic devices by drivers in a moving vehicle.
Now, using any mobile device that is not hands-free while driving is a moving violation with stiffer penalties, including suspending the drivers licenses of repeat offenders. This includes holding a mobile device at a stop sign, at a red light or while sitting in traffic. And Gov. Pritzker is considering legislation to increase fines for first-time violators, in some cases, to $1,000 to further discourage distracted driving.
The Illinois Tollway encourages its customers to turn off their phones whenever they get behind the wheel—which they believe is the best way to avoid distracted driving and instead focus on driving safely.
At an Illinois traffic safety forum in 2018, Tollway maintenance staff, engineers and roadway workers were on hand for a presentation by Jennifer Smith, CEO of StopDistractions.org. In her powerful presentation, Ms. Smith told the story of losing her mother to a distracted driver who was using a cell phone. Since then she has made researching and educating the public on the dangers of distractions her purpose.
Take a moment to watch this video and learn what you see and don’t see when driving distracted. Become educated on how cell phones and apps are designed to be addictive and what it is doing to our brain. The StopDistractions.org has made this available to increase awareness and public education on this critically-important topic. Let’s save the lives of the ones you love and end this epidemic of distracted driving.