It started in Chicago with Oprah, but the Boston Globe is the latest media outlet to report that celebrities are the latest weapon being used to combat distracted driving caused by cell phone use or text messaging behind the wheel.
We reported in January on our Chicago Car Accident Lawyer Blog when Oprah launched her “No Phone Zone”pledge in an effort to combat Chicago car accidents and traffic accidents nationwide caused by distracted driving.
Now, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gears up for the second annual Distracted Driving Summit in Washington D.C., next week, celebrities are being enlisted with increasing frequency.
Oprah’s pledge has drawn 400,000 participants and has been followed by celebrity pitches as diverse as American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, the Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno and Today host Meredith Viera. Eighty-eight year old actress Betty White has gotten in on the action, as has 23-year-old Olympic snowboarding champion Shaun White.
It’s clear that the federal government is pulling out all the stops to get states to enact laws banning text messaging while driving and to get motorists to pay attention to the dangers. As our Chicago injury lawyers frequently report, the federal government pins 6,000 deaths and more than 500,000 injuries each year on distracted driving, making it the most dangerous road hazard after speeding and drunk driving.
Thus far 30 states have banned text messaging by all drivers, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. Eleven of those states have passed measures this year.
Illinois’ law took effect January 1 and makes it illegal to text message while driving or to use hand-held cell phones in school zones or construction sites. Drivers in Chicago have been prohibited from using hand-held cell phones since 2005.
The latest push has occurred among young celebrities, including the Jonas Brothers, as studies show that young drivers are the most at-risk for a serious or fatal accident caused by distracted driving, and particularly text messaging.
The government is also participating in anti-distracted driving campaigns in partnership with the National Football League and NASCAR.
If you or a loved one is involved in a Chicago car accident, contact Abels & Annes for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.