Miss Illinois, Crystal Davis of Anna, shared her story with Rend Lake College students to convince them to stop driving distracted. Photo provided.

Crystal Davis, Anna, gives presentation at Rend Lake College

Miss Illinois addresses distracted driving

Students at Rend Lake College in Ina packed the college's theatre Thursday, Feb. 18, to learn all about distracted driving from Miss Illinois, Crystal Davis of Anna, and Illinois State Police, ISP, Trooper Christopher Watson.

Approximately 175 students attended the presentation to hear from the speakers, both of whom shared personal experiences with the issue. 

Both Davis and Watson spoke passionately about the topic and provided several different statistics to drive their points home.

Davis, who was involved in a car accident several years ago, addressed the audience first and focused on her experiences as well as the platform she is promoting as Miss Illinois: Crystal Clear Driving – Eyes on the Road.

“If you’re distracted driving, or the other person is distracted driving, and you’re involved in a crash, it’s not an accident. It’s 100 percent preventable,” Davis said.

“There is no need to be responsible for someone else’s life. You’re not a professional multi-tasker. If you look away, only for five seconds, at 55 miles per hour, you’ve crossed a football field. You always need to be very alert and looking ahead.”

Davis also spoke about a close friend of hers who passed away last year because another driver, who was distracted behind the wheel, caused an accident. 

Watson then took the stage to speak from the law enforcement side of distracted driving, sharing times when community members would contact the ISP because of a dangerous driver.

“The number one, most-dangerous things we do is get in a car,” Watson said.

“Last year, on U.S. roadways, about 33,100 people died. My presentation isn’t about me catching you, and you shouldn’t think of it that way. It’s about being in the vehicle and making good choices. This is a huge issue in our society. It’s about you thinking how these decisions are going to impact your life.”

During his presentation, Watson said an individual who is driving distracted is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. Commonly confused with driving under the influence, distracted drivers act as though they have a blood alcohol content of .16 – double the legal limit.

“Are there dumb things we can do in our cars that aren’t against the law? Yes. But it’s all about a choice. Eighty-one percent of drivers admit to texting and driving. And the other 19 percent? They’re not telling the truth. We all do this,” Watson said. “Make good choices because it will change your life.”

According to information from the ISP, driver inattention is a factor in more than 1 million crashes annually in North America. The result of these accidents is nearly $40 billion per year in an economic impact.

(Editor's note: The accompanying article and photograph were provided by Rend Lake College public information specialist ReAnne Palmer.)

The Gazette-Democrat

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