Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is scheduled to speak at a summit on distracted driving to be held next Wednesday, April 13, at Evanston Township High School.

Organizers say the event, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. in Room N112 at the school, will include in-depth discussion and expert-led direction about distracted driving; driving simulators; how to minimize risk, distraction, and liability; why phones and driving don’t mix; and tips on how to “put it down.”

Hosts and sponsors of the session include AAA Chicago, Active Transportation Alliance, Allstate Foundation, American Defensive Driving School, ETHS Safety Department, Evanston City Council, Evanston Police Department, FocusDriven, National Safety Council and Northwestern University’s Traffic Safety School.

Research on distracted driving by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving and that of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashed 18 percent were distracted by a cell phone use.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.

And a University of Utah study shows that using a cell phone while driving — whether hand-held or hands-free — delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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