BRONZEVILLE — Michael Reed said even though young people know better, many of them, including himself, still have a habit of using their cellphones while driving.
"I used my phone today while I was driving. I know it's wrong but it's a hard habit to break. But one that I am working on," said Reed, a 24-year-old Englewood resident. "When you text someone while driving you could potentially kill someone and I don't want that on my heart."
Reed was among a group of young adults who joined Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) at a Friday news conference at the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies in Bronzeville to promote safe driving as the Fourth of July holiday approaches.
"Driving while texting is just as bad as driving while intoxicated. I can't tell you how many times I stopped at a red light and looked over to see a young person on their phone texting," she said. "This is becoming a national epidemic."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving accounts for almost half of the nation’s car fatalities, and most involved cell phone usage.
To combat this problem she suggested high schools better address it in driver education classes.
"That's when teenagers learn how to drive. That's when they learn about the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and not wearing a seat belt," Dowell said. "This group thinks nothing bad is going to happen to them but they're wrong."
But it's easy to be distracted by a cell phone because it's hard to live without a phone, explained Terrell Berry, a 25-year-old Roseland resident.
"I don't think much can be done about this because having a cellphone is a necessity," Berry said. "Without it, I would be lost."
It's not just lives that are changed when car accidents happen but neighborhoods too, said Dowell.
"The National Safety Council and the Secretary of State's Office estimate that an average of $9,000 in property damage and $100,000 in medical expenses occurs as a result of a car accident," added Dowell. "That's a big economic hit our neighborhoods are taking every year."
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