April 23, 2018

Prepared remarks of Chief Brian Fengel
Vice President, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police
Chief of Police, Bartonville, Illinois

Chief Brian Fengel delivered these remarks at a press conference today in the Blue Room of the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. 

  • Concern about “distracted driving” is the combination of our concern about drunken driving and using seat belts.
  • We are responding to too many crashes where distracted driving is a major cause.
  • It’s why we need Distracted Driving Awareness Week.
  • We appreciate our partnership with AAA, Illinois State Police, IDOT, and others on this effort. Thanks, Beth, for your leadership.
  • More than 200 state, county and local law enforcement agencies and private sector partners will coordinate enforcement and educational activities this week to bring a heightened awareness to this issue.
  • Last year, the first year we did this together, participating agencies issued more than 18,000 warnings and citations, mostly for illegal use of cell phones and texting while driving.
  • Commercial vehicles received more than 200 of these citations and warnings.
  • One of the goals of the Illinois Chiefs is to enhance the traffic safety culture in Illinois. It’s been a priority for us for more than 20 years.
  • Education of drivers is important, but many drivers already know you’re taking a risk by texting while driving or using your cell phone while driving.
  • So my message is: please stop doing it. Don’t be the guy, when I’m looking in my rear-view mirror, who’s mostly looking in his lap and only occasionally looks up, and you’re still sitting there five seconds after a light turns green.

    People everywhere are doing it, and so here’s what I’m asking: Stop it.
  • Contrary to what some drivers think, law enforcement prefers voluntary compliance over issuing citations. Based on the numbers we have been seeing and on our experiences in our home communities, compliance is not happening to the level it should be.
  • Districted Driving Awareness Week is being conducted to demonstrate our capacity and willingness to come together on this important issue and to send a strong message that we are committed to addressing this issue.  Every state police district and many county sheriff departments from across the state are participating, in addition to our member agencies. We are grateful for their partnership and hope our residents see just how well Illinois law enforcement partners together on emerging issues.
  • That said, we need motorists need to take a hard look at themselves and to make a commitment to change.
  • They also need to recognize that when it comes to distracted driving, they are putting every other driver around you at risk.
  • We need drivers to focus on the road, to put their phones down and to wait before responding to texts.
  • We ask that drivers begin to make that change today.