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IDOT Summit spotlights distracted driving dangers

Participants look to bring down rising death totals on state roads

information provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (October 31, 2018) — On Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Transportation convened its first “Traffic Safety Summit: Partnering Toward Zero Deaths” to bring together local and state agencies, public officials, and community members to seek solutions to distracted driving and develop new ways to increase safety and awareness on Illinois roads.

“The number of lives lost each year due to crashes is nothing short of an epidemic,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “No one group can tackle this alone.”

Texting and driving—and other forms of distracted driving—is a growing public safety hazard, suspected of contributing to the increasing number of traffic deaths in Illinois. The last two years, traffic deaths in Illinois surpassed 1,000, the highest in a decade and mirroring national trends.

Secretary of State Jesse White unveiled a new distracted driving video that was written and produced by high school students. The video is being distributed to high schools statewide to help address the dangers of distracted driving.

In addition to speakers from IDOT, other participants included: a distracted driving community advocate, traffic safety engineers, educators, first responders, and other law enforcement. The Minnesota Department of Transportation led a presentation on its successful Toward Zero Deaths initiatives. And multidisciplinary work groups came together to delve further into the issue.

The summit is the latest effort by IDOT to improve traffic safety and awareness across the state. Other initiatives include: crashed cars displayed at rest areas this summer as a physical reminder of the importance of responsible driving, a dynamic message sign contest encouraging people to submit their own safety messages, and continued development of new ways to improve safety in work zones.

Earlier this year, IDOT launched Life or Death Illinois, a multimedia campaign that includes vivid imagery and key statistics to underline the importance of safe driving and appeals to audiences to consider the seriousness of the issues on the state’s roads. Visit for more information.