Arlington Heights PD Starts Program To Address Distracted Driving

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Northwest suburban police department is taking it a step further in an effort to get motorists to put down their cell phones while driving.

Over the past two years, the Arlington Heights Police Department says its officers have given out more than 3,100 tickets to motorists using their cell phones without a hands-free device. As a result, officers who spot drivers violating the law will give verbal warnings as well as cell phone cradles.

The cradles attach to dashboard vents and allow motorists to use cell phones hands-free. Sgt. Ed Commers says 2,000 cell phone holders were donated by the Napleton Auto Group.

“Bottom line is we’re trying to raise awareness of this problem and it’s not all about just writing tickets for us. We’ve decided we want to take a more educational stance on this as well,” Commers said.

During the verbal warnings, officers will attempt to educate the driver about the increased perils of operating a vehicle while distracted by use of electronic devices such as cell phones.

“Unfortunately, the problem is not necessarily getting better. The percentage of driver’s text-messaging or visibly manipulating handheld devices, at any time, increased from 1.7 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2015,” the Village of Arlington Heights wrote on their website.

The new program, ‘Cradle Your Distraction,’ will run from Oct. 27 to Nov. 1. The initiative will debut as part of the Traffic Bureau’s Halloween Traffic Safety Campaign, according to the Village.

Sgt. Commers says motorists who break the cell phone law come in all ages — young and old.

The law in Illinois:

  • Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary law)
  • Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers* (Primary law)
  • Ban on texting for drivers of all ages (Primary law)
  • Illinois bans the use of cell phones while driving in a school zone or in a highway construction zone
  • Handheld ban for drivers of all ages (Primary law)

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