Itasca, IL – FocusDriven – Advocates for Cell-Free Driving today announced the launch of its new website and called on the families and friends of distracted driving victims across the country to raise awareness about the dangers of cell phone use while driving by hosting their own distracted driving summits. The announcement was made at the Illinois Distracted Driving Summit in Addison, IL. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Illinois Senate President John D. Cullerton, and Illinois Representative John D'Amico spoke at the Summit, hosted by FocusDriven and the National Safety Council and held in partnership with Shriners Hospitals for Children – Chicago.
“I’m in this fight because I lost my mother to a driver talking on a cell phone,” said Jennifer Smith, president and founding board member of FocusDriven. “Now, less than three years after her death, we know distracted driving is happening in every city, town, and state across America. Illinois is taking steps to make its roadways safer, so I challenge families and friends of distracted driving victims nationwide to hold their own state summits and demand action in their communities.”
A summit resource guide, including video clips, presentations, and other resources, will be available on the newly redesigned FocusDriven website at focusdriven.org/summit. The site also includes a searchable database of victims where photos and messages from friends and family members can be shared via a memorial wall.
“We know there are victims of distracted driving in all 50 states,” said Smith. “FocusDriven’s new website will combine these personal stories with proven data and information that will help anyone in any state put together an effective summit to fight distracted driving.”
“The National Safety Council supports FocusDriven in the fight to end cell phone use on our roadways, both in Illinois and nationwide,” said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Through the summit, we’re helping FocusDriven build resources others can use to drive change in their states. The perspectives and experiences of U.S. Secretary LaHood, Secretary White, state legislators, victim families and other experts will help augment the resources NSC and FocusDriven have already developed.”
"Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic on America's roadways, and it's a key part of our safety agenda at the Department of Transportation," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Today's Illinois Distracted Driving Summit is an important reminder that no text message or phone call is worth a life."
Distracted driving kills approximately 5,500 people annually, and an estimated 9 percent of drivers are talking on cell phones at any given moment, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the National Safety Council, nearly 1 in 4 crashes involve cell phone use.
The Illinois Distracted Driving Summit brought together experts, including medical professionals, law enforcement officers, behavioral researchers, and driver education teachers. Family members of Illinois residents lost to drivers distracted by cell phones also told their stories.
The Illinois Distracted Driving Summit was sponsored by The Allstate Foundation and DuPont Sustainable Solutions. FocusDriven’s redesigned website was made possible by The Allstate Foundation. More on the summit can be found at nsc.org/2011summit.
FocusDriven – Advocates for Cell-Free Driving (focusdriven.org) is a nonprofit advocacy organization for victims of motor vehicle crashes involving drivers using cell phones.
The National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) saves lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the roads through leadership, research, education and advocacy.