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updated: 2/22/2014 4:29 PM

Make the commitment to focus while driving

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"Drop it and drive." Chances are, at some point, you've uttered a phrase like that after witnessing someone on the road talking, texting or surfing the Web on a cellphone while driving. Statistics confirm what most drivers know, but many continue to ignore: distracted driving is dangerous and deadly.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drivers using hand-held phones are four times more likely to get into an accident causing injuries. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that more than 3,300 fatalities nationwide -- about 10 percent of all traffic deaths -- occur as a result of distracted driving. In Illinois, nearly 6,000 crashes occurred from 2008 to 2012 in which distraction involving a cellphone was cited by police, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Of those, 30 were fatal.

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These are preventable tragedies. Gov. Pat Quinn along with Secretary of State Jesse White are leading efforts to help save lives by cracking down on distracted driving. A new state law prohibits motorists from talking on all but hands-free mobile phones while driving.

The tragedies are why we have come together to launch a new public awareness campaign to educate drivers about the hand-held cellphone ban that took effect Jan. 1 and remind motorists that if they drive with a phone in one hand, they can expect a ticket in the other. But drivers need to do their part by making the decision to focus 100 percent on driving every trip, every time. For more information about how to participate this important campaign, please visit www.dropitanddriveillinois.com.

Jesse White

Illinois secretary of state

Hiram Grau

Illinois State Police director

Kristi Lafleur

Illinois Tollway executive director

Ann. L. Schneider

IDOT secretary

Brad Roeber

AAA Chicago regional president

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