Sheriff announces 'Operation Deadly Distractions'

Cook County Sheriff’s Police launched “Operation Deadly Distractions” to curb the rampant and dangerous use of cell phones by motorists, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Wednesday, Oct. 23, at a press conference with national safety experts. 

“Put the phone down. You are endangering yourself and everyone on the road when you are not paying attention,” Dart said. “We are hoping that increased enforcement of these lifesaving laws, along with public awareness, will start to have an impact on what is now a disturbingly common habit while driving.”

Dart announced the operation during National Teen Driver Safety Week alongside representatives from the National Safety Council, the nation’s leading safety advocate for more than 100 years. 

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Sheriff’s police began the operation’s weekly saturation and sting patrols Wednesday, targeting distracted driving in Niles and Palos townships. Operations will be conducted throughout the county and are in addition to a heightened daily focus by all sheriff’s police on distracted driving, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says causes more than 3,000 deaths a year.

Nick Smith, chief operating officer for the National Safety Council, spoke at the press conference on ways parents can help teach their children to avoid dangerous driving behavior. 

“Ending distracted driving is everyone’s responsibility, and parents play an important role in establishing good driving behavior with their teens,” Smith said. “If we’re going to save lives, we need high-visibility enforcement campaigns like the one being conducted by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. When we pair enforcement with strong laws and education, we can change behavior.” 

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