Illinois police promise crackdown on distracted driving

- It was 10 years ago that Charlene Sligting-Yorke's father was killed while riding his motorcycle in Libertyville, hit by a teenage girl talking on her cellphone.

"This is the Father's Day card I had gotten my father that year that I was unable to give him because he was killed three days before Fathers Day," Charlene said.

On Monday, Charlene joined police officers from 300 departments across the state in Springfield for Illinois’ largest enforcement effort to crack down on distracted driving.

"Based on the numbers we have been seeing and our experience in our home communities, compliance is not happening to the level it should be," James Kruger from the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police said.

Sgt. Eric Munson from the Plainfield Police Department agreed with Kruger’s assessment, saying “it’s almost like people are daring us to try and stop them."

Munson said it's difficult for police to write tickets for distracted driving because they can't see people's phones, which is why Plainfield police officers will be standing at traffic lights as part of the crackdown.

"When you go out on foot and you walk right up to that car and see the person down in their lap going like this, just texting away, you've got them dead to rights and you can win that case in court,” Munson said.

This year marks the first-ever Distracted Driving Awareness Week in Illinois and police are promising to crack down all around the state.

"For the officers they're gonna pay more attention this week than they normally do, to set the tone and send the message. So yeah, they're gonna be looking for people who are violating state law," said Lou Jogmen of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

After her father's death, Charlene went to work for the Triple A Motor Club of illinois, going around and telling her story to groups throughout the state.

"I tell people please, please choose not to drive distracted,” Charlene said. “Because nobody deserves not to have a father, especially because of something that can be so avoided. He didn't die of an illness. He died because someone was careless and chose to drive distracted."
 

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