The Cook County Sheriff’s Office has announced that it is cracking down on distracted drivers as part of a new initiative to enforce the state’s distracted driving laws.
“100 Percent Preventable”
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced the new enforcement program, dubbed “Operation Deadly Distractions,” on Oct. 23, 2019. The plan will target distracted drivers in an effort to change behavior behind the wheel.
“The numbers are absolutely staggering, as far as when you look at what the cellphone world has done to the driving world,” Dart said. “The two of them together have not been a good match at all.”
In Illinois, it is illegal to use a handheld cellphone while driving. Despite this fact, Cook County Sheriff’s officers have recorded nearly 300 crashes from distracted driving in the past three years, with two of them ending in death. Meanwhile, distracted drivers killed 3,166 people nationwide in 2017 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Nick Smith, the chief operating officer of the National Safety Council who joined Dart at the press conference, said these distracted driving accidents are “100 percent preventable.”
Sheriff’s police will conduct weekly saturation patrols and sting operations across Cook County, with the first taking place in Niles and Palos Townships. As part of the crackdown, teams of Sheriff’s police are picking spots to actively stop and ticket drivers seen talking or texting while driving. They also plan to deploy spotters with binoculars to alert police about drivers who are texting or talking on the phone.
The Sheriff’s Office has already issued 150 tickets this week. Operation Deadly Distractions will remain in effect for the next two to three weeks.
“This is not something that is innocuous,” he said. “Every single one of these calls can wait. Every single one of these text messages can wait. Peoples’ lives are in jeopardy here and we need to do something about it.”
Distracted Drivers Pose Same Risk as Drunk Drivers
Dart hopes the initiative will help change driver behavior in Illinois. Despite its illegality, and the high number of serious injuries and death left in its wake, distracted driving – essentially any activity that takes a driver’s hands off the steering wheel or his or her eyes or mind off the road – has nowhere near the social stigma that drunk driving does.
This is unfortunate because experts say that distracted drivers can be as dangerous as drunk drivers, if not more so. According to Cambridge Mobile Telematics, a company that makes driving applications for auto insurance companies, texting and driving at 55 miles per hour is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. Beyond that, it takes the average sober driver .54 seconds to hit the brake. For a drunk driver, the rule of thumb is to add an average of four feet to their reaction time, but for someone who has been texting, Cambridge has determined that you should add 70 feet.
How a Lawyer Can Help in a Distracted Driving Accident
And unlike drunk driving, which can be quickly verified at the scene of a car accident with a breathalyzer or a field sobriety test, it is not so easy to prove distracted driving. This can create a serious obstacle if you are trying to pursue a personal injury claim, particularly when the other driver’s insurance company is disputing liability.
To help you with your distracted driving accident claim, contact the Chicago car accident lawyers at GWC Injury Lawyers today. At GWC, we know how to gather the evidence clients need to achieve successful outcomes against distracted drivers. For example, our team of injury attorneys can subpoena a defendant’s cellphone records to prove distraction at the time of a collision. With over $2 billion recovered for our clients over more than four decades in the business, we think our results speak for themselves.
So don’t let a distracted driver’s insurance company distract you from obtaining the full compensation you deserve. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today with GWC, one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. Call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.