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Officers educate people about distracted driving

CHAMPAIGN -- Police will be enforcing cellphone laws more heavily in a few weeks.
CHAMPAIGN -- Police will be enforcing cellphone laws more heavily in a few weeks.

"We get real comfortable in our vehicles," says Lieutenant Dave Shaffer.

However, don't get too comfortable on Prospect Avenue. Soon officers will be keeping a close eye on drivers. Leading up to June 1, they're trying to give drivers the heads up.

WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield followed them as they patrolled one of the busiest intersections in the city.

An SUV which rolled over in early April, 2014, is just one of about 30,000 vehicles which pass through Prospect and Bloomington Road each day.

"What we've seen is a lot of accidents up here. In 2013, we had approximately 180 accidents on this small stretch of road," says Lt. Shaffer.

Many times those accidents happen because the driver isn't paying attention; something Kyneitha Thompson knows all too well.

"I'm usually jamming to the music and doing all of this. You know pretending like I am a superstar. Sometimes cars switch lanes and I am not really aware of it before it's too late because I've got one of those poses going on," says Thompson.

For a few weeks, officers will be handing out pamphlets to drivers on Prospect Avenue during the busiest times of the day, trying to stop the distracted driving that many times can cause a collision.

"We just want to raise peoples' awareness and get them focused back on driving. Improper lane change, following too close, speed violations. Those are usually the issues that we would center upon when we are up here," says Lt. Shaffer.

Officers say it doesn't matter which way people go; north or south, there are an equal number of issues on both sides. Police say 60% of those accidents happen between noon and 6 pm.

"Most of those are rear-end accidents, low speed but we know there's a takeaway from your focus of driving based on other things," says Lt. Shaffer.

If a pamphlet doesn't get your attention, after June 1, a ticket might. But in Thompson's case, maybe not.

"I just have to have my music. It puts me in a better mood. It puts me in a better mood for my day. I am nicer and more relaxed," says Thompson.

Distracted driving statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 2012:
  • A little more than 3,300 people were killed in distracted-related crashes
  • Close to 421,000 were injured
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