SIUE is joining the Distracted Driving Month campaign for the first time since its start in 2012.
Lt. Adam Severit from the SIUE Police Department said the SIUE police are now issuing citations for distracted driving for the rest of April.
“During this campaign, we’re mainly issuing state citations [for distracted driving],” Severit said. “This offense is serious and is more ample for a citation [regardless of the month].”
Severit said he believes students should not take the risk of driving distracted because there are consequences.
“Last year when COVID-19 came out, we had a student who was coming on South Circle Drive towards Parking Lot B and [Residence Hall Drive] over by Art and Design and she dropped her mask. She bent down to pick up her mask and in the time she bent down to pick it up, when she came back up to look and she was off the road, flipped the car and totaled her vehicle out,” Severit said.
This April is the first time SIUE has ever gotten involved with Distracted Driving Month.
“This is something that we had been looking into and decided to go with,” Severit said.
Since the first Distracted Driving Month in 2012, the Illinois Department of Transportation has been cracking down on distracted driving to encourage public safety.
IDOT Public Information Officer Paul Wappel said IDOT partners with local law enforcement all over the state to help prevent distracted driving.
“We have more than 200 law enforcement agencies statewide helping IDOT to enforce the efforts to stop and ticket those who violate the distracted driving and other motor vehicle laws,” Wappel said.
Wappel said he greatly appreciates SIUE becoming a part of Distracted Driving Month due to its importance.
“The more law enforcement agencies that are involved, the more enforcement that can be done to eliminate distracted driving,” Wappel said.
Wappel said the goal of this month is to make roads safer, and that it’s important to know how dangerous distracted driving really is.
“Three, four or five seconds to read a text, look at a message, can be fatal — for you, for people in your vehicle and for other motorists and pedestrians,” Wappel said.
Lt. Chris Byrne with the city of Edwardsville Police Department said distracted driving has become more common than it used to be.
“I’m sure as you drive around and as you look around, you see it without even paying attention. There are people on their phones too often while they’re driving,” Byrne said.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 lives were claimed by distracted driving in 2019, an increase from 2,841 in 2018.
Byrne said distracted driving can encompass many different things, but all can be dangerous.
“There are a lot of different types of distracted driving. [There are] distractions from inside the car, outside the car, it’s a broad term,” Byrne said. “We try to focus our efforts on educating the public on not using cellphones [while driving].”
Byrne said there are various dangers posed by distracted driving.
“You’re not watching out for emergency vehicles that need to pass, for cars that are stopped in front of you, pedestrians crossing the roads, your safety,” Byrne said.
Byrne said he encourages students to think about the risks before they answer a text.
“All things considered, your safety is more important,” Byrne said. “The text or post that you don’t make in the short trip that you’re driving could very well save your life. Nothing is so important that you should allow yourself to drive distracted.”
For more information, go to the SIUE Police Department website.