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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 28, 2011

CONTACT:
Illinois Tollway - Joelle McGinnis, 630-241-6800 x2380
Secretary of State - Beth Kaufman, 312-814-8301
IDOT - Josh Kauffman, 217-558-0517
ISP - Master Sergeant Isaiah Vega, 312-814-8367
AAA Chicago - Beth Mosher, 630-328-7234

ILLINOIS AGENCIES PARTNER TO RAISE AWARENESS OF THE DANGERS OF TEXTING WHILE DRIVING

“Drive Now. Text Later.” Campaign Launches Statewide

DOWNERS GROVE, IL – The Illinois Tollway, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police, Illinois Secretary of State and AAA Chicago today announced the launch of a new statewide campaign aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of texting while driving and ultimately reducing the number of cell phone-related accidents on Illinois roadways.

The campaign, titled “Drive Now. Text Later.” features a series of three professionals: a school bus driver, an airline pilot and a surgeon and reminds drivers: “He should be focused… and so should you.” These images demonstrate the need to focus on the job at hand and that texting while performing other tasks can be dangerous and deadly – not just to yourself, but also to those around you.

A recent online survey indicated that 40 percent of Illinois Tollway customers did not know that it is illegal to text or e-mail at any time while driving on Illinois roads. January 1, 2011, marked the first anniversary of the state law that prohibits sending or reading text messages while driving in Illinois.

“We were surprised to learn that so many of our customers were simply not aware that texting while driving is illegal in Illinois,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “This campaign is intended to remind us of the potentially deadly consequences that go along with texting while driving. Our customers need to focus on safe driving and remember that they can’t do both.”

The public awareness campaign will include: the placement of posters on tollbooths, in retail outlets, rest stops, oases and driver’s license facilities; radio and television public service announcements; bumper stickers and window clings; signage on roadway message boards; newsletter articles and other tools to help educate Illinois residents about the dangers of texting while driving. The campaign will also feature a Web site with downloadable public service announcements, print-ready fliers and posters, a fact sheet, tips to avoid distracted driving and links to other useful online resources.

“We are so pleased to bring together these partners to broaden the reach and impact of this important campaign,” Lafleur said. “All of us recognize that the issue of distracted driving is becoming increasingly challenging. It’s our responsibility to make sure that Illinois residents know what’s at stake.”

“With the increased use of technological devices, distracted driving has become a serious issue in our state and in the nation,” said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. “That’s why in 2009 we initiated the no texting while driving law in Illinois. No driver has any business text messaging while they are driving. Additionally, we initiated the ban on talking on cell phones in school zones and construction zones. By working together, we can educate the public on these life-saving laws and make the roads in Illinois the safest ever.”

In Illinois, preliminary data indicates that cell phone distractions, including texting, were the primary or secondary cause of more than 500 vehicle crashes in the first half of 2010 alone. In 2009, cell phone distractions were the primary or secondary cause of nearly 1,300 vehicle crashes – an increase of more than 9 percent over 2008.

Nationally, nearly 5,500 people died in 2009 in distracted driving-related crashes and nearly half a million people were injured. Distraction-related fatalities represented 16 percent of overall traffic fatalities in 2009 – the same percentage as in 2008.

"Talking on the phone in a school zone, texting a friend or surfing the Internet while driving for even a few seconds can cost you more than just a fine," said Acting Illinois State Police Director Jonathon Monken. "Distracted driving can result in serious injury or death and can have long-lasting effects on the victims and their families. The public can help keep our roads safer by putting down their phones and picking up their heads while driving."

“Distracted driving is an extremely dangerous activity that continues to plague our society today,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. “We hope the joint ‘Drive Now. Text Later.’ campaign involving the Illinois Tollway, IDOT, State Police, Secretary of State and AAA Chicago will immediately impact and positively shape motorist behavior statewide. This historic partnership between state and private organizations demonstrates our collective commitment to continuously and effectively improve traffic safety on Illinois roadways.”

“As Illinois enters into its second year with no texting for all drivers on Illinois roadways, AAA is proud to take part in the ‘Drive Now. Text Later.’ campaign that will continue to reinforce the law,” said Brad Roeber, regional president of AAA Chicago. “By combining AAA’s resources with those of the Illinois Tollway, IDOT, the Illinois State Police and the Secretary of State, we hope to maximize the reach, breadth and depth of this important message to keep Illinois roads safer.”

For more information about this campaign and how to avoid distracted driving, please visit www.illinoistollway.com.

 

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