National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

30714270_1260662190732572_3090956806956629051_nApril is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the Buffalo Grove Police Department is partnering with the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois State Police, and more than 100 local law enforcement agencies in Illinois to remind drivers to drop their phones or pay up. Fines can range from $50 to $150, depending on the number of prior violations.

Motorists will see increased patrols and enforcement zones across the state throughout April. Buffalo Grove Police will ticket drivers who text or use cellphones while driving.

Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on U.S. roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, 3,166 people died in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2017. While this represents a 9-percent decrease in these fatalities compared to 2016, there is more work to be done to increase awareness about this public safety issue.

“Distracted driving kills. Motorists would not knowingly close their eyes for several seconds while driving and risk harming themselves or others, but that is exactly what they do when reading an average text message,” said Buffalo Grove Police Chief Steven Casstevens. “Traveling at 60 MPH equates to 90 feet per second. By looking down at your phone for only 3.5 seconds, you have traveled more than the length of a football field without looking at the roadway. That is a potentially deadly habit and is exactly how crashes occur every day.”

Buffalo Grove Police are also imploring drivers to adhere to “Scott’s Law” which requires drivers to move over and slow down when passing a vehicle with flashing lights stopped on the side of the road. Whether it is an emergency vehicle, such as a police car, fire truck or ambulance, construction or personal vehicle, drivers MUST slow down, and change lanes if it is safe to do so.

“Illinois drivers have become complacent. So far in 2019, 16 Illinois State Police vehicles have been hit, with three of those troopers killed,” continued Chief Casstevens. “These troopers have left behind husbands, wives, children and other loved ones. If you see flashing lights, slow down significantly and move over. There is no excuse not to do this.”

Drivers who choose not to slow down or move over may be cited under statute 625 ILCS 5/11-907 (c), a law also known as the ‘Move Over’ law, which was enacted after Chicago Fire Lieutenant Scott Gillen was killed by a passing vehicle while helping at a crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway in 2000.

The Distracted Driving enforcement campaign is supported through federal funds administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation.