Texting and driving

Texting and driving (Jennifer M. Kohkne / February 20, 2014)

Letters to the editor from Niles, Rolling Meadows and Evanston.

Distracted driving

"Drop it and drive." Chances are, at some point, you've uttered a phrase like that after witnessing someone on the road talking, texting or surfing the Web on a cellphone while driving.

Statistics confirm what most drivers know, but many continue to ignore: Distracted driving is dangerous and deadly.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drivers using hand-held phones are four times more likely to get into an accident causing injuries. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that more than 3,300 fatalities nationwide — about 10 percent of all traffic deaths — occur as a result of distracted driving.

And, in Illinois, nearly 6,000 crashes occurred from 2008 to 2012 in which some form of driver distraction involving a cellphone was cited by police, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Of those, 30 were fatal.

These are preventable tragedies.

Gov. Pat Quinn along with Secretary of State Jesse White are leading efforts to help save lives by cracking down on distracted driving. This past summer, Quinn signed into law a ban on the use of hand-held cellphones while driving in Illinois and increased penalties where use of an electronic device leads to a crash resulting in serious injuries.

The new state law prohibits motorists from talking on all but hands-free mobile phones while driving. Get caught talking, texting or surfing the Web while driving? Under the new law, fines start at $75 for drivers caught using a hand-held cellphone while driving. Drivers could pay $150 for repeat offenses and may eventually have their driver's licenses suspended. Drivers who cause fatal crashes while using a hand-held electronic device could wind up serving up to three years in prison.

The tragic results caused by the growing epidemic of distracted driving are why we have come together to launch a new public-awareness campaign. Our goal is to educate drivers about the hand-held cellphone ban that took effect Jan. 1 and remind motorists that if they drive with a phone in one hand, they can expect a ticket in the other.

Hiram Grau, director, Illinois State Police

— Kristi Lafleur, executive director, Illinois Tollway

— Ann. L. Schneider, secretary, Illinois Department of Transportation

— Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State

— Brad Roeber, regional president, AAA Chicago

Modern autos

"Amazing" is the only way to describe the cars and trucks rolling off the assembly line and into the hearts of salivating drivers the world over. The recent Chicago Auto Show was stunning. With cutting-edge technology converting modern vehicles into computers and entertainment theaters on wheels, it seems the sky is the limit.

Communication systems in cars can now monitor the location, speed and direction of other vehicles and warn drivers of traffic jams, stalls, foreign objects, closed roads and a myriad of other potentially dangerous or inconvenient situations. On the horizon are plans for the vehicle to be able to detect significant changes in a driver's health.

Technology is fast making our cars and trucks smarter than ever. Now if we could only get our Betsy to dig herself out of the snow and place a broken chair in the spot for "dibs."

— Kathleen Melia, Niles

Pothole filler

I cannot believe that we cannot create a pot-hole-repair process that works, a system that, once applied, will last for a couple of years, much longer then the repair system presently used. The material used to fill the holes is soon bumped away only to require filling again in a month.

I am not a chemist, so I do not know or cannot identify the items needed, but I can describe the kind of materials that are needed to be employed. First, the material used to fill a pothole needs to be more fluid so that it flows into the spaces between the particles inside the hole. Second, the material must be sticky so that it will adhere to the material that it comes in contact with. Third, after the material sets, it then must become a part of the road that it attaches to; it needs to dry to a solid substance and be durable enough to withstand regular thumping and changes in temperature.

The stuff that is presently used does not have these properties, but it is close. Engineering students should be able to create this stuff as a class project in a semester.

Mike Sidor, Rolling Meadows

Candidate choice

Frequently when I travel outside of Illinois, I am asked how we can elect a governors like Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan. Then I look at the current group of Republican candidates and see why.

None of them seems to be straight with us on whether they would raise the minimum wage or other issues facing the state. They say they have plans and ideas to improve the business climate, education, health care, taxes pensions, etc. Where are they?

Leo Dohogne, Evanston