Distracted driving can have life-altering consequences for both distracted motorists and their victims, Illinois State Troopers David Roman and Aldo Schumann emphasized during a June 5 presentation to students in Nova’s Teen Program. Using PowerPoint slides that featured actual video clips and still photos of traffic crashes, Troopers Schumann and Roman illustrated how sending a text message or using cell phone while behind the wheel takes drivers’ eyes—and minds—off the task of safely operating their vehicles.
Students had an opportunity to watch the moment a distracted, 19-year-old driver who was reading a text message struck State Trooper Starlena Wilson while she was conducting a traffic stop on the Dan Ryan Expressway. Trooper Wilson suffered a broken pelvis, broken legs, and head injuries in the crash. Following a painful recovery that included 17 surgeries, she was able to return to duty with the State Police.
Not everyone survives distracted driving crashes, however. Troopers Roman and Schumann noted that over 3,000 people die each year in the United States in distracted driving crashes, and approximately 420,000 drivers are injured in such crashes. In 2014, they noted, the Illinois State Police wrote 14,847 citations for distracted driving.
Students also learned more about Illinois’ Graduated Driver Licensing Law, which phases in full licensing privileges over time, and the Move Over Law (Scott’s Law), which requires motorists to move one lane away from emergency, maintenance, and road service vehicles displaying rotating, oscillating, or flashing lights.