Evanston police raise awareness of distracted driving

Tori Latham, City Editor

In an effort to highlight distracted driving, the Evanston police issued 76 citations over five days last week for texting or talking on a handheld device while driving.

From April 10 to 15, Evanston Police Department participated in the nationwide “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign, created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The campaign combined the enforcement of anti-texting laws with advertising to inform people of the law and emphasize its importance, EPD said in a news release.

“Texting and driving requires motorists to take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving,” Evanston police traffic bureau sergeant Tracy Williams said in the release. “It creates the proverbial ‘perfect storm’ for a crash, and no one has the right to put another person’s life at risk like that.”

Evanston police Cmdr. Joseph Dugan told The Daily that EPD took part in the campaign as a way to focus attention on texting while driving — an issue that is particularly important in Evanston.

“In a city like this, you have a lot of bicycles and a lot of pedestrians,” Dugan said. “It makes it even more dangerous and it’s extra important (to raise awareness).”

At least 3,154 people in the U.S. were killed in 2013 due to crashes involving distracted drivers and 424,000 people were injured in distraction-affected crashes in 2013, according to data from NHTSA.

While enforcing no-texting-while-driving laws is part of EPD’s everyday duties, Dugan said the campaign was a good way for the department to join a nationwide effort.

He added that he thought 76 citations was a large number for a five-day period.

“(This campaign) can have a big impact on keeping accidents and injuries from occurring,” Dugan said.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @latham_tori