Illinois couple warns of distracted driving dangers - KMOV.com

Illinois couple warns of distracted driving dangers

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Shelley Timmermeier (Credit: Shelley) Shelley Timmermeier (Credit: Shelley)
ALTON, Ill. (KMOV.com) -

Distracted driving has reached epidemic levels, according to Illinois State Police. That is one reason why the department, along with the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Governor of the State of Illinois and various local agencies, are marking April 24th throughout April 28th as Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week.

A couple from Illinois is sharing their story of near-tragedy, hoping to warn others and spark change.

In February 2016, Mark Schlottner and Shelley Timmermeier were a couple of miles from their home when they were hit head-on by another car. They both ended up in the ICU after being transported to the hospital by helicopters.

“My legs were crushed from the knee down. Both legs and feet were messed up. I have titanium rods and pins and in my legs and feet. I broke several ribs and was knocked out,” said Schlottner.

“I had three broken toes, my pelvis was busted, six ribs were broke, my sternum was busted, either two or three vertebrae in my back,” said Timmermeier.

According to the Illinois State Police crash report, witnesses saw the driver of the other car on his cell phone. He denied that but did tell police he was distracted as he reached for a napkin.

“I want to know what phone call was so important that you nearly killed me. I don’t understand that,” said Timmermeier.

Crashes like this are becoming more common. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,400 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015. That’s a 9 percent increase from the year before.

Illinois distracted driving laws have been in effect for seven years. Right now, the fine for using a cell phone while driving is $120.               

This couple is making t-shirts, writing lawmakers, and sharing their story with anyone who will listen to campaign for stricter penalties.

“It seems like everybody thinks they can multitask and obviously they can’t,” said Schlottner. “People take it so lightly.”

“I’ve got to change the laws. We can’t just talk about it. The laws have to change in every state,” said Timmermeier.             

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