April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police and more than 200 local law enforcement agencies throughout the state to remind motorists to “Drop It and Drive.”

“Texting while driving puts everyone on the road at risk by distracting the driver visually, manually and cognitively,” Rock Island County Sheriff Gerald Bustos said in a Wednesday release. “During Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we’re working to increase awareness of these dangers and encourage all motorists to give driving their full attention.”

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Office will be ticketing motorists who are using their cell phones while driving.

At a time when traffic fatalities are on the rise in Illinois and across the country, the Sheriff’s Office is committed to reducing the traffic crashes caused by distractions like texting or talking on a cell phone.

In 2019, distracted driving killed 3,142 people in the U.S. – a 10% increase from 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Young drivers seem more prone to using their phones while driving. According to NHTSA research from 2017, drivers 16 to 24 years old have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers have since 2007.

Motorists in Rock Island County can expect to see increased patrols and enforcement zones. The Rock Island County Sheriff’s Office will be ticketing drivers who text or use their cell phones while driving, the release says. The campaign is administered by IDOT with federal traffic safety funds.

The number of total Illinois traffic fatalities has risen from 1,035 in 2018 to 1,340 in 2021. The number of fatal crashes in Rock Island, Henry, Mercer and Whiteside counties was 23 in 2020 and 28 in 2021.

According to new National Safety Council estimates, U.S. roads are the most dangerous they’ve been in years — on a typical day, eight people are killed and hundreds more are injured in distraction-affected crashes.