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Focus on the road—don’t drive distracted

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tristin English
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
We've all been there before, driving while distracted. Whether it's from messing with the radio or the GPS, talking to your passenger, eating or drinking and even messing with our cell phone.

However, now it's against the law to be on your cell phone or texting while driving, yet I see people do this every day.

On Jan. 1, a new Illinois law went into effect to ban the use of all hand held devices while driving to deter drivers from texting. Not only is texting and driving illegal in Illinois, but also in 43 other states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands according to the Governor's Highway Safety Administration.

Illinois's cell phone and texting laws are considered primary laws, which mean that an officer can pull you over for this offense without having to witness some other violation. That is, the officer sees you texting and issues a citation.

At Scott, the fine for violating the state and this base law starts at $75 or three points subtracted from your license.

Individuals who drive while sending or reading text messages are 23 percent more likely to be involved in a car crash than other drivers. A crash typically happens within an average of three seconds after a driver is distracted. According to NHTSA, the number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012 but an estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted drivers; this was a nine percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011 with all drivers in their 20's making up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes.

A study from the University of Utah indicated that the reaction time of a teen driver using a cell phone is the same as that of a 70-year-old driver who is not using a cell phone and according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an auto crash than driving when intoxicated.

Despite knowing the rules of the road, I still see people who use their cell phones while driving and weave in traffic lanes. I challenge everyone to not text when driving. It will save a life.