CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois State Police surprised a lot of people on the Kennedy Expressway on Friday morning, as they conducted a distracted driving detail to catch people texting or talking on cell phones while they were behind the wheel.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, in the past, such details have been like shooting fish in a barrel for state troopers.
“It absolutely is. I don’t think people are getting the message out there right now,” State Police Lt. Jeff Grendzinski said. “There’s zero tolerance for using a cell phone, whether they’re texting, or without a hands-free device, and we’re trying to get the emphasis out there.”
Grendzinski distracted drivers are no different than drunk drivers.
“The amount of times that we’ve stopped distracted drivers that are texting or using their cellular phones, one thing’s going through the mind of the trooper: is that person is a hazard on the roadway. We don’t know if they’re drunk, or if they’re texting, or using their phone. It’s distracting them,” he said.
Police have placed spotters at spots about 20 feet over the Kennedy Expressway to catch drivers breaking the law, and Grendzinski said there are so many drivers texting or calling without a hands-free device, police couldn’t possibly catch them all.
“There are more violations than we have cars available,” he said. “We don’t even have to concentrate our efforts to look for them. They come to us.”
He said troopers let distracted drivers know they were driving so erratically, they appeared to be drunk.
“That’ll tell you exactly how dangerous it is using your cell phone,” the lieutenant said.
Among those caught Friday was a school bus driver who was texting at the wheel, with no kids on the bus.