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John Homan: Numbers don't lie, it's time to stop texting while driving

By John D. Homan
updated: 6/18/2018 5:45 PM

How safe do you feel when you're out on the road driving?

Would you feel safer if other drivers weren't distracted drivers? I think most of us would be, don't you think?

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White was pushing last week for more stringent penalties for those persons caught texting while driving. House Bill 4846 cracks down on texting by classifying first-time offenses as moving violations.

Under the current law, which took effect in 2014, second and subsequent texting-while-driving offenses are treated as moving violations, while first offenses are treated as nonmoving violations.

"With the increased use of technological devices, distracted driving has become a serious problem on the roads of our state and throughout the nation," said White. "This important legislation will make our roads safer and I urge the governor to sign it into law. No driver should be texting while driving."

The legislation passed overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate and only requires Gov. Rauner's signature to make it law.

I think most all motorists at one time or another have either read a text or initiated one while behind the wheel. I admit to having done so, but I am making a concerted effort to cease and desist.

The addition of Bluetooth makes things so much easier, allowing us to keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. And ... NHTSA estimates that at least 25 percent of police-reported crashes involve some form of distracted driving.

Those are some sobering numbers -- statistics that should not be ignored. I know I haven't.

And when you think about it, what text is so important that you must answer it while driving?

Driving can be difficult enough without adding distractions to the equation. You ever hit a deer through no fault of your own?

I have. And even though it wasn't my fault, I had to pay a $500 deductible with my insurance company.

And then there are other drivers to consider. Some may be suffering from a bout of road rage and race by you at 90 mph because you weren't going fast enough to suit them. Others -- like one I encountered earlier this week -- fail to secure items such as a new mattress in the back of a pickup truck only to have the wind blow it out the back side.

Fortunately for me, as the trail vehicle, the mattress blew sideways into a soybean field and not directly backward into my line of vision.

There are no safety guarantees when traveling the highway, but you can at least increase your odds of safe travel by doing away with distracted driving. Making that concession may just save your life.