Urging Safety Belt Use and Encouraging Designated Drivers During Festive Holiday Period PEORIA – Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary, Timothy W. Martin, and Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Larry Trent joined together today in urging motorists to buckle up and not drive impaired during this busy holiday season. Both IDOT and ISP are focusing their resources on getting more motorists to wear seatbelts and reduce the number of impaired drivers on the roads.
"We know that Christmas and New Year’s are a time for families and friends to get together and celebrate, we just ask that you celebrate safely," Secretary Martin said. "Over the busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we had 17 people killed on Illinois roads and with holiday parties and travel, the potential is even greater for tragedy."
Over the period covering the Thanksgiving holiday weekend this year, 17 people were killed in 11 fatal accidents. Results are still preliminary, but at least 3 of the people killed were not wearing seatbelts. Alcohol-related statistics for the Thanksgiving holiday are not yet available.
"Simply put, designated drivers and buckling up save lives, but unfortunately, some people just don’t get the message," Director Trent said. "We are seeing fewer people killed this year and I honestly believe it is due to Governor Blagojevich signing the primary seat belt enforcement law in 2003. People know they can get pulled over for not wearing their seatbelts, so more people are buckling up."
Through December 13th, there were 1272 people killed on Illinois roads in Illinois this year, 135 fewer than last year during the same time period (1407). Of the persons killed this year in traffic crashes on Illinois roads, 402 were not wearing seat belts. In 2003, 1454 persons were killed in traffic crashes on Illinois roads, of the drivers killed last year 43 percent of those tested had a positive blood alcohol content.
During the Christmas and New Year's holidays in 2003, 38 people were killed in traffic crashes and half of those killed were not wearing seat belts. The Illinois State Police began holding additional roadside safety checks throughout the state during the Thanksgiving weekend and will continue these checks through January 5, 2005. In addition to the roadside safety checks the state police are running seat belt enforcement zones and patrols aimed at reducing the fatal five offenses that contribute to crashes: speeding, not using seat belts, following too closely, impaired driving and improper lane usage.
The Illinois Department of Transportation encourages motorists to celebrate safely this holiday season by having a designated driver and buckling up, every trip, every time. IDOT is also encouraging celebrating the New Year’s safely by partnering with several First Night, alcohol-free, celebrations throughout Illinois, including Springfield, Evanston and Rockford.