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We support CTA's ban on cell phones
We applaud the Chicago Transit Authority’s new no-tolerance policy for bus and train operators who use cell phones or other electronic devices while operating a vehicle. We encourage all Chicago-area transit boards to adopt similar policies.
Distracted driving, including dialing on cell phones and text messaging, is one of the leading causes for crashes injuring bicyclists and pedestrians. Bicyclists and pedestrians are disproportionately injured and killed in crashes because they do not have the protection of seatbelts, airbags or a steel frame.
Recent reports from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reveal that text messaging increases the risk of crash as much as 23.2 times as high as non-distracted driving. The same analysis showed that drivers of heavy vehicles involved in distracted driving crashes on average had their eyes off the roadway for four of the last six seconds before the crash. On a major arterial road, a vehicle can travel more than 100 yards in that amount of time. Distracted driving has been the cause of several high-profile crashes involving public trans in Southern California and Boston.
The Illinois General Assembly also recognizes the need to curb this behavior. This year it passed two laws that restrict texting or talking on a cell phone while driving. This legislation, however, does not affect public transit rail operators. And although it is critical to ensuring bicyclists’ and pedestrians’ safety, it is not enough to protect the employees and customers of Illinois’ public transportation.
The non-profit Active Transportation Alliance improves walking, bicycling and transit by building a movement, increasing traffic safety, encouraging physical activity and designing a world-class transportation network. We are working to create a region with a 50 percent reduction in all crashes and where 50 percent of the population walks, bikes and takes mass transit. We sit on the Secretary of State Jesse White’s Distracted Driving Task Force and we value our partnerships with Pace, Metra and CTA.
You can make transit safer by banning the use of cell phones and other electronic devices by your employees while operating buses and trains. Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.
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