Phone companies pushing anti-distracted driving message to reduce risk of Chicago car accidents

As our Chicago car accidents lawyers reported last year, we have come a long way since the debut of the “car phone” in a Chrysler K car at Soldier Field in the 1980s. Gone from marketing efforts are any mentions of “car” and “phone” in the same sentence as companies increasingly distance themselves from the liability of driving while using their products.

An effort to form a lobbying group of cell phone makers to push back against anti-texting laws in Congress even failed last year for lack of participation on the part of the phone companies. Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports some 5,000 people are killed each year and another 500,000 are injured in accidents caused by distracted driving. Cell phones and text messaging are high on that list of blame.Text messaging and driving is now illegal in Illinois, as is using a hand-held cell phone in a school zone or construction site. Hand-held cell phone use is illegal everywhere in the City of Chicago. But those laws do not stop thousands of motorists feom endangering themselves and others each day.

At particular risk are teenagers — who are more likely to text message and more likely to drive distracted than any other age group.

AT&T is launching “It Can Wait,” a campaign meant to combat the dangers. The 10-minute documentary features a teen killed the day before her high school graduation and another who killed a bicyclist while texting “lol.”

“This documentary is a raw look at the reality and hazards of texting while driving, and we hope it will make wireless customers think twice before pulling out their cell phones in the driver’s seat,” said AT&T spokeswoman Cathy Coughlin. “As a global telecommunications company, it is our responsibility to bring these risks to light.”

In May, Sprint joined the Oprah Winfrey Show to educate drivers about the risk of distracted driving.

And a Florida company has even developed an app for that. The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reports the $29.99 PhoneGuard app uses GPS to prevent a cell phone from texting, e-mailing or surfing the web when traveling more than 10 mph.

The device can also alert parents or employers when a vehicle travels more than 65 mph by sending a text with a locator map of the vehicle’s speed and location.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, the personal injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS.

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