Blagojevich administration, local police gear up for impaired driving campaign during the holidays
Illinois on target for one of the safest years on state roadways
SPRINGFIELD – As 2006 draws to a close as one of the safest years in history on Illinois roadways, Governor Rod. R. Blagojevich today urged holiday travelers to celebrate the holidays safely, by buckling up and not driving impaired. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Illinois State Police (ISP) are teaming up with more than 150 local police agencies in kicking off a holiday impaired driving crackdown that will run through January 1, 2007.
"The holiday season is a time to celebrate and get together with family and friends. Please celebrate responsibly. We are on track to have the fewest highway fatalities in our state in more than 80 years. If you’re going to drink, don’t drive. If you’re driving, make sure everyone with you is buckled up," Gov. Blagojevich said.
As of December 17, provisional numbers show there were 1,211 people killed on Illinois roadways, compared to 1,319 for the same time period during 2005. Last year 1,363 people were killed. If Illinois fatalities for 2006 drop below 1,300 it will be the lowest number of fatalities since 1924, when 1,065 people were killed. Fatalities on Illinois roadways have been greatly reduced since Gov. Blagojevich signed the primary enforcement law in July of 2003.
"Between now and the first of the new year, Illinois State Troopers will be working with more than 150 law enforcement agencies around the state, as well as IDOT, in order to get drunk drivers off of Illinois roadways," said Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent. "Statistics show that half of all fatalities during the New Year’s holiday last year were alcohol related. Special patrols targeting impaired drivers will help to ensure fewer fatalities."
State Police will be teaming up with the more than 150 local agencies and IDOT between now and 2007 to perform about 250 Roadside Safety Checks and Saturation Patrols throughout Illinois. These special patrols will focus on removing impaired drivers from our state’s roadways with many of them focused on late evening and early morning hours.
"We want everyone to enjoy the holidays, spend it with family and friends, but we want people to do it safely. If you’re hosting a party, have plenty of food, non-alcoholic drinks and be prepared to take the keys away from anyone who has had too much to drink," said IDOT Secretary Timothy W. Martin. "While our focus is on impaired driving, I know I join Governor Blagojevich and Director Trent in urging everyone to buckle up, every trip, every time."
The cost for the mobilization will be approximately $700,000 and will be backed by a $500,000 media buy to remind motorists not to drive impaired. The mobilization comes from federal highway safety funds that are specifically set aside for these types of enforcement and education campaigns.