Get the message: Don’t text and drive
By Linda Girardi For The Beacon-News September 19, 2012 6:24PM
Illinois Representative Linda Chapa LaVia (left) and Illinois Senator Linda Holmes urge drivers to promise not to text while driving during a "No Text on Board Pledge Day" at the AT&T store on East New York Street in Aurora on Wednesday, September 19, 2012. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media
So far in 2012:
Aurora police have issued 41 tickets and 16 warnings for texting while driving.
Oswego police have issued 12 warnings and one ticket for texting while driving.
Geneva police have issued a combined 20 tickets or warnings. Geneva police also have issued 53 tickets or warnings for use of a cell phone in a school or construction zone.
According to studies by AT&T and other recent research:
Half of all teenagers send between 21 and 70 text messages a day.
Teens expect a reply to a text message within five minutes.
43 percent of young people admit to texting while driving, even though 97 percent of them know it is dangerous.
Texting takes a person’s eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds.
Those who do text and drive are 23 times more likely to be involved in a traffic crash.
For information on texting and driving, visit www.itcanwait.com.
Updated: October 21, 2012 2:27PM
AURORA — State Sen. Linda Holmes paused for a moment at the AT&T store on East New York Street Wednesday afternoon to respond to a text message.
“This is my life,” she said, adding, “I am not driving.”
Holmes and her fellow Aurora Democrat, State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, partnered with wireless provider AT&T Wednesday to raise public awareness about the dangers of text messaging while behind the driver’s wheel.
AT&T worked through the Illinois Municipal League in receiving the endorsement from several cities — among them Aurora, North Aurora and Batavia — which adopted proclamations declaring Wednesday as “No Text On Board” day.
Holmes said lawmakers have passed legislation that prohibits texting while driving, but they are still constantly addressing problems associated with distracted driving.
“It is difficult for us who make the drive to and from Springfield,” because of so many calls and texts, Holmes said. “I have learned to use my head phone.”
Chapa LaVia said it is important for her to support the initiative as a lawmaker — and as the mother of an almost-teen driver. “My daughter will nudge me when I am texting,” she said.
Chapa LaVia said the state should continue to partner with AT&T on ways to translate the dangers of texting and driving into the driver’s education curriculum in the state.
The Aurora lawmaker said she has seen far more graphic educational videos in European countries than those in the United States, and she supports showing the more grisly films.
“We get push back here because we don’t want our kids to see it. Well, they need to see what could happen,” Chapa LaVia said.
AT&T Illinois spokesman Valerie Bruggeman said text messaging-related auto crashes have become an epidemic, with the more than 100,000 collisions nationwide each year, according to the National Safety Council.
“Taking your eyes off the road is like driving blind-folded down a football field,” Bruggeman said.
Aurora Police Cmdr. Kristen Ziman said the department conducts traffic details looking for distracted drivers.
“Some drivers will admit to texting and some people will deny it with the phone beside them,” she said.
“It’s a wonderful way to communicate but not when you are operating a piece of machinery that is 4,500 pounds and traveling at roughly 40 miles an hour,” Ziman said.
In voting for Batavia’s “No Text On Board” resolution this week, Alderman Victor Dietz noted, “It’s a worthwhile safety effort for young people — and not so young people.”
Many young celebrities have joined the no-texting-while-driving cause. At an event this month at Paramount Studios in California, Joe, Kevin and Nick Jonas, Kat Graham, Jordin Sparks, Christian Serratos, Diego Boneta and R.J. Mitte all took the pledge not to text and drive.