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Legal Experts Helping IL Students Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is now one of the leading causes of traffic accidents and Illinois has seen one of the largest spikes in traffic fatalities over the past two years. (iStockphoto)
Distracted driving is now one of the leading causes of traffic accidents and Illinois has seen one of the largest spikes in traffic fatalities over the past two years. (iStockphoto)
September 9, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – With classes now in full swing, legal experts this month will be helping high school students in Illinois understand the dangers of distracted driving. According to a new report from the National Safety Council (NSC), Illinois saw a 24-percent increase in traffic deaths over the past two years, one of the biggest jumps in the country.

Trial lawyers will be visiting schools in several states, including Illinois lawyer Jessica Hoerman, to help young students understand the dangers of not paying attention while behind the wheel.

"As a lawyer, we see a bunch of cases that come in usually after the tragedy happens," she said. "It's good to be on the other side of it to help prevent any kind of tragedy before they happen. And getting out to speak to the kids is the best way I know how."

Hoerman will be giving an "End Distracted Driving" presentation in Granite City at the end of the month. In all, lawyers working with the American Association for Justice will be giving talks in about 20 schools.

Association president Julie Braman Kane said the distracted-driving campaign is part of her group's Trial Lawyers Care program, which was started in the aftermath of the tragic events of 9/11 in 2001. The idea was to help victims' families get access to free legal advice.

Kane said 15 years later, they want to continue that type of community service.

"Trial lawyers donated in 2001 and thereafter a hundred years worth of free service," she explained. "What we're trying to do today is commemorate that volunteerism."

According to the Illinois State Police, distractions such as cell phones and GPS systems are now some of the top causes of car accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 10 percent teen drivers involved in fatal crashes nationally were distracted while driving.

Hoerman said educating teen drivers can help them make better decisions when they get into a car, whether they're the driver or a passenger.

"They have the power to make this socially unacceptable, and that's why I think it's so important that we get to the kids and that we have these conversations," Hoerman added.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - IL