Texting and driving is a crime in most states, including Illinois. The practice has been banned due to the sharp increase in the chances of a car accident coming from a driver who is distracted by his or her cell phone. The behavior is often attributed to young people for whom cell phones have become an integral part of life. A recent study shows that, while teens certainly text and drive with alarming frequency, adults are actually greater offenders of texting behind the wheel. Teens may simply be mirroring the behavior of their parent's generation.
Illinois is again considering becoming one of the handful of states that ban the use of hand-held cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. The majority of states, including Illinois, already ban texting while driving as a behavior associated with distracted driving accidents. A proposal to ban hand-held cell phone use was defeated in Senate last year. A new proposal was endorsed by a state House committee earlier this month. If the bill is passed by the full House, it will go to the state Senate where a similar bill was defeated last year.
Do as I say, not as I do. As a training tool, that admonition has long proven ineffective. In the case of distracted driving and other dangerous practices behind the wheel, a new study has shown that teens will emulate their parents' poor driving habits and car accidents will often be the result. In a survey conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions, two-thirds of teens indicated that their parents do not obey the driving rules they set for their children. Unsurprisingly, roughly the same percentage of teens ignore the safe driving advice and repeat the poor driving habits of their parents.
The laws against texting and driving that have swept the nation in recent years draw a distinction between the distraction offered by text messaging and the distractions that have long been part of the driving experience. A new study has shown some distractions are, in fact, more dangerous than others in terms of causing car accidents. The study also demonstrated that people often do not realize how much their driving suffers when they split their attention between tasks.
Motor vehicle fatalities have been declining for many years. Despite a significantly larger population, 2010 statistics regarding fatal car crashes were comparable to the numbers seen in the 1950s. In fact, 2010 saw the fewest fatalities per miles driven ever recorded according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Despite the tremendous improvement in preventing motor vehicle deaths, it seems there has been almost no progress in cutting down on speeding and aggressive driving.
There are more drivers aged 70 and older on the roads now than ever before. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, that population will expand, as will the information and misinformation regarding older drivers and serious car accidents. With no set guidelines about how to deal with age and the right to drive, it is important for people understand the real impact of older people on the roads before placing unnecessary restrictions on the licenses of elderly Americans.
The recent tragedy in Florida in which 11 people lost their lives has called attention to a problem faced in many states. When is the potential for a serious car accident so great that a road should be shut down? Florida officials briefly shut down Interstate 75 because a brush fire and foggy conditions had lowered visibility to unsafe levels. Shortly after deciding to reopen that stretch of highway, the dangerous conditions caused a massive wreck involving semi trucks, a motor home and multiple cars. The accident has left people wondering who has the responsibility to close roads and what criteria do they use to make their decisions?
The dangers of drunk and distracted driving have been pushed to the forefront of the national consciousness over the years. An older and more common problem continues to be the cause of countless car accidents every year: drowsy driving. Several automakers have invested in new technology designed to protect drivers who doze off behind the wheel. It is unclear if any of the options available will prove effective in saving lives.
Most experienced drivers have learned to identify when road conditions are challenging. Bad weather and dangerous driving conditions are not rare in Illinois. But even the best drivers have difficulty identifying when rain is severe enough to cause a car to hydroplane or when falling temperatures, moisture and exhaust fumes have combined to form deadly black ice. Scientists are not researching a new method to help reduce the number of car accidents caused by bad weather. They are testing a method that would allow the road itself to inform you.
A new public service announcement (PSA) will begin airing this week at Regal Cinemas and various gas station pumps across the nation. The PSA is part of a campaign by the U.S. Department of Transportation to educate teen drivers about the danger of distracted driving. The timing of the announcements is meant to coincide with the large number of teen drivers who will be on the roads during winter vacation, many in challenging weather conditions.