CHICAGO (CBS)–Illinois drivers who use their phones behind the wheel could run an increased risk of getting ticketed this month, as police departments across the state plan to increase enforcement of hands-free driving laws.
Drivers will notice increased patrols across the state during the month of April, recognized by police as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
More than 100 police agencies across the state are planning to add new hands-free driving enforcement zones that will target drivers using their phones, according to the Naperville Police Department.
The emergence of texting and around-the-clock wifi capability on smartphones in recent years has led to more accidents, according to the National Safety Council, which says an average of nine people die every day in the U.S. in crashes related to distracted driving. An average of 100 people are injured every day, the statistics show.
“Ignore the distractions and #justdrive to keep us all safer on the roads,” the organization says on its website.
Deaths related to distracted driving decreased by nine percent from 2016 to 2017, according to statistics from the National Safety Council.
Naperville Police Sgt. Derek Zook noted the decline in crash-related deaths, but said distracted driving remains one of the leading causes of car accidents.
“Every day, you can look out your car window and see a driver using their cell phone,” Zook said in a statement. “People know texting and driving is dangerous and illegal, but they do it anyway, and it puts others at risk.”
Extra police patrols and other costs related to the Distracted Driving Enforcement Campaign are covered by federal funds allocated to the Illinois Department of Transportation.