Illinois Launches Campaign Against Distracted Driving

Illinois State Police have been targeting distracted drivers in a campaign called Operation Safe Star. The campaign was declared May 6th, a year after state trooper Starlena Wilson was struck and almost killed by a woman who was reading a text message while driving.

Operation Safe Star is in honor of Starlena Wilson's injuries, and an effort by troopers to reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents on Illinois roadways. Starlena Wilson is also one of the founders of the recent campaign "Drive Now. Text Later." Illinois officials claim that the idea for the campaign came to them after an online survey showed that 40 percent of drivers on the state's tollways were not aware that e-mailing and texting while driving in Illinois are illegal.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nationwide there are over 800,000 drivers on the road using a hand-held cell phone at any time during the day.

According to the National Safety Council, those using a cell phone while driving are four times more likely to get involved in a motor vehicle accident, and those that text while driving are at least eight times more likely.

Along with many other states, Illinois has primarily relied on public safety information and education campaigns to increase awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. Many campaigns are targeted towards teenagers, as their age group has the greatest percentage of distracted driving related crashes.

The state law prohibiting text messaging, e-mailing and all similar activities while driving took effect in January 2010. Drivers under age 19 are prohibited from using cell phones in any way, hands-free devices included.