ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Nine people are killed every day by distracted driving. It's a sobering new statistic that Illinois State Police hope will make us think twice before answering that next text message while behind the wheel.
Illinois State Police Trooper Jeff Thew is on the lookout, not just for speeders but also texters. He says catching people typing away on their phones isn’t hard.
“More often than not you can actually see them holding their phone, slightly up by the steering wheel, you know, so they think they can multi-task and do both, but their head is notably down,” said Trooper Thew.
With 23% of all accidents involving texters, state police are cracking down, just like they do specific patrols for speeders and drunk drivers, troopers now also spend time looking for texters.
Trooper Thew says texting can be just as dangerous as getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink.
“At least to some degree they’re attempting to focus on the road and operating their vehicle while when you’re texting and driving you’re doing what it is, using that phone. You’re diverting your attention away from the road completely and putting it somewhere within your vehicle,” said Trooper Thew.
Thew is ready to start writing even more tickets for drivers using their phones. Starting January 1st, if we’re caught with a cell phone in our hand, we expect a ticket. Thew says it will make our roadways even safer.
“Your focus, your attention, rather than looking at the dial or anything like that is going to be where it should be in watching the road.”
Thew says that new law will help with catching texters too. He says a lot of times they give the excuse they were looking down at their phone for another reason. They won’t be able to do that with the new law.
State troopers in Chicago recently did a detail and caught more than 100 people in less than two hours for texting and driving.