Illinois is one of 46 states in the U.S. that prohibits text messaging while driving, and one of 14 that prohibits the use of handheld cell phones for all drivers. evidence surrounding the issue of distracted driving and the necessity of cracking down on it are not new. One quarter of all car accidents in the United States are the result of texting while driving, which the state of Illinois officially banned at the beginning of 2010. So why is it that in Chicago, instances of distracted driving and resulting fatal crashes have only risen since then?
A recent article from the Chicago Tribune reported that traffic citations issued for distracted driving have sharply decreased over the past three years. The laws are still in place, but they are being enforced with only a fraction of the strictness with which they were enforced as recently as 2014. To give you an idea: there were 45,000 tickets issued to drivers using mobile devices at the wheel in all of 2014. As of April of this year (2017), there have been 24.
As a lifelong Chicagoan and frequenter of the expressway, I see instances of distracted driving every day. As a personal injury lawyer, I see its effects, and those are much worse.
Traffic gets rough in a city like this. It bothers me when I see one of the drivers around me jolting to a halt, an inch from the bumper in front of them because they were not watching the road, or when the car in front of them starts moving again and they remain stationary, oblivious to the line of furious drivers building up behind them. It bothers me because I know someday soon, that oblivious driver is going to seriously hurt someone.
I don’t see how such a significant threat to our public safety can go so unchecked, both by those who are violating the ban on texting while driving, and by those who are supposed to be enforcing it. How can you see the person in the car next to yours, or even in the driver’s seat beside you, looking down at their cell phone, eyes nowhere near the road–and not fear for yourself and the people around you?
I often see clients who were injured in car accidents, many of which involved distracted driving. It is always upsetting to see people who have been badly hurt, but especially so when the cause was something so avoidable. So I urge everyone reading this: do not text and drive. Your likelihood of receiving a traffic violation for it may have lowered, but your risk of causing a serious car accident has not. Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them until it does.
If you’ve been injured in a traffic accident and would like to discuss your situation with me, you can reach me at (312)-258-8188, chicagoaccidentlawyer.com, or siglaw.com.