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Memorial Signs To Include Distracted Driving Victims In 2011

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Roadside Memorial Act into law earlier this year, which will expand the state's roadside memorial program for traffic accident victims to those killed in distracted driving incidents, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Currently only those who died in DUI and other alcohol-related accidents are allowed to be memorialized by roadside signs.

While Chicago DUI lawyers don't typically handle distracted driving cases, mostly because they don't carry the same penalties, advocates for tougher laws say distracted driving is often as dangerous as drunk driving. New research cited by another recent Sun-Times article backs that assertion.

In fact one study conducted at the University of Utah found that 97.5 percent of the population doesn't have the ability to multitask in the way required to safely operate a vehicle while talking on the phone. Jennifer Smith, president of phone-free driving advocacy group FocusDriven, said the 2.5 percent who have those skills might make good fighter pilots:

"The big problem is that people think they're in that 2.5 percent. Unless you're 'Top Gun,' you can't do it." 

And what most motorists don't realize is that hands-free headsets do very little to make talking on the phone while driving any safer. As Jennifer Smith puts it, it's not about what you're doing with your hands, "It's where your head is."

The new law to allow roadside memorials to distracted driving victims was inspired by 47-year-old Cheryl Miller. Her 5-year-old son died in a distracted driving incident two years ago in Naperville. The boy's father was on the side of the road preparing to fix a flat tire when a motorist who said he was trying to pick up a dropped cigar slammed into them.

Each memorial will say "Reckless Driving Costs Lives" and will include the name of the victim. 

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