In the state of Illinois drivers are experiencing a lot of changes this holiday driving week. First at the gas pump, they are seeing a permanent spike in gasoline taxes to .38 cents a gallon. The new increase is expected to be applied to fixing roads, bridges, highways, and other infrastructure. Some Illinoisans appear to be a bit skeptical whether infrastructure will be improved. (Remember the Illinois Lottery and where that money was to be applied?; that’s a discussion for another day.)
But that’s not all. Every driver in the state knows, or should know, that texting and driving is illegal in Illinois. It’s been considered a non-moving violation. Not anymore. Today, if drivers are caught using any electronic device that’s not-handsfree, it’s a moving violation.
But here’s my question. What if the driver is still handsfree and the stupid driver is watching a video and wearing headphones as seen here? (I’m sorry for the poorly taken photos). I took these photos while I was a passenger in a car and couldn’t believe my eyes.
We should have moving violations and license suspensions for people just being stupid and dangerous while behind the wheel. Personally, every time we glamorize watching videos in cars as fun, we encourage people to do this, or to ignore the serious nature of the potential hazard.
I am pretty sure she could not hear the emergency vehicles coming down the highway with her headphones on. The only thing she could see was me snapping photos of her ridiculousness. In fact, she was so embarrassed she began slowing down on our 70-mph highway, so I couldn’t take any more photos.
Car crashes across the country are on the rise. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Admin.) reports that 3,166 people were killed as a result of distracted driving in 2017 (that’s 8.5% of all fatalities). That’s drivers using their mobile devices rather than keeping their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while driving.
We all know that many deaths are a result of distracted driving. But let’s be honest, there is no way the driver (as shown in these pictures), or any driver for that matter, could multitask enough to pay attention to the road, watch a video, wear headsets while listening to whatever, all while lounging back in her car seat behind the steering wheel of a vehicle going 65 mph. You be the judge.
As I have talked about before just sending an average text or reading one takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. What happens when you are looking at a video on a screen? At 55 mph or even now 65 mph, you are actually driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed, that means you’re going more than 300 feet. In this case, this knucklehead is repeatedly traveling many on an Illinois tollway with her eyes closed.
Perhaps a real gamechanger is to forgo glamourizing the task of driving a car while doing these other things that are causing driver distractions like singing, dancing, making videos, telling jokes, or whatever the late-night TV hosts and stars seem to be doing to obtain viewers.
But here’s something to think about. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker legalized marijuana in the state recently, so distracted driving just might get a little tricky after the first of the year. Perhaps we can debate that piece of news when enforcing distracted driving in 2020. (But let’s hold that for another time.)
Perhaps it’s time to get more tech and innovators to work with government to save more lives because at this point it seems drivers are proving they are going to find new ways to circumvent the laws no matter what and who are at risk.
Stay safe out there this holiday weekend—and keep alert. You just might see the darndest things—if not the stupidest.
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