Illinois steps up effort against texting and driving

September 28, 2010

The effort comes as a new report shows that laws aimed at stopping the habit may not be working as well as lawmakers had hoped.

Soon, Illinois motorists will see new TV public service announcements about the state's law banning texting.

"Unfortunately, while it's convenient, people have become accustomed to texting not only at their homes, at their desks at work, but also while driving, very dangerous situation," said DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett. "It... has proven to be a deadly distraction."

Birkett unveiled a series of public service announcements Tuesday with Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

"When you are looking at your cell phone, thinking about what you are going to say, concerning yourself with your sentence structure, your spelling, and hitting the keys, the question is asked: who's driving the car?"

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety studied four states with texting bans. It found that having texting laws did not reduce crashes and crashes in fact increased in three out of every four states enacting texting bans.

"Drivers now know that texting is illegal in these states that have enacted bans, and so what they're doing is moving their phones down and out of sight and continuing to text, and this actually makes the practice more hazardous, because it takes your eyes off the road longer," said Anne Fleming of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Local officials admit that laws alone will not change behavior, but they hope the PSAs will help educate motorists about the risks they take when driving and texting.

Local officials say teens are not the only ones texting. They say the largest growing group of texter-drivers is adults over 35 years old.

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