Distracted driving remains a concern for local law enforcement

By Gary Scott on September 13, 2016 at 2:32pm

Are West Central Illinois drivers following the state’s distracted driving laws put in place at the start of 2014?

Jacksonville Police Department Lieutenant Chris Johnson says the distracted driving problem hasn’t improved since the law went into effect.

According to statistics from 2015-2016, Jacksonville Police have issued 16 verbal warnings, 133 written warnings and 26 citations for a total of 175 stops for cell phone usage.

Johnson says policing the law can be difficult at times, because officers aren’t always sure whether or not drivers are texting while driving.

“After the texting while driving became illegal, I’ve personally noticed a lot more people looking down inside their car compartment whereas they used to hold the phone up and text. This is just pure speculation but I believe they’re putting their phones down in their lap and still texting. It’s much harder to prove that that is what they ‘re doing. We don’t stop somebody unless we absolutely know that that’s what they’re doing,” says Johnson.

Johnson explains the JPD is learning to “air on the side of caution” when it comes to pulling people over for distracted driving, whether it be texting and driving or talking on the phone in a non-hands free manner.

As for possible solutions, Johnson says there are several ways for drivers to avoid distractions.

“Most of these phones today have the capability of using a voice-to-text, where you simply push one button and you talk into your phone, it will then type that out for you and send it for you. That would be my recommendation for most people, or simply, if it’s that important that you have to check your texts, then pull over,” Johnson says.

A fine for distracted driving is a $75 ticket.