CHICAGO – As 2012 comes to an end, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois State Police and nearly 300 law enforcement agencies across the state today announced plans to stay extra vigilant in a final “Drive to Survive” push to keep vehicle fatalities down during the New Year’s Holiday. This extra awareness comes in the form of roadside safety checks, safety belt enforcement zones and other patrols reminding motorists to “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and “Click It or Ticket.”
The widespread final push to save lives on Illinois roadways comes at a time of year that tragically can be one of the most dangerous. According to provisional numbers, 946 people have lost their lives on Illinois roadways in 2012.
“Unfortunately, New Year’s on Illinois roadways is deadly and can be one of most dangerous times of the year because of drunk drivers,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider. “Driving a vehicle while intoxicated jeopardizes your safety and the safety of others on our roadways. If you are going to drink, plan another way home before the celebration begins, and always buckle up in the front seat and back.”
IDOT crash data shows in the last five years (2007-2011) during the New Year’s Holiday (6 p.m. on Dec.31 to 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 1), 42 people died in vehicle crashes on Illinois public roadways. Seventeen, or 41%, of those 42 individuals, died in crashes involving at least one driver who had been drinking. During the same five-year timeframe on New Year’s, 3,114 people were injured in 12,750 crashes.
During the 2011 New Year’s Holiday, nine people lost their lives and 502 were injured in motor vehicle crashes on Illinois roadways. Three of the nine fatalities resulted from crashes involving at least one drinking driver.
In 2009, 911 people lost their lives in vehicle crashes on Illinois roadways, marking the first time since 1921 that Illinois experienced fewer than 1,000 fatalities on its roadways. Since then, Illinois has had two additional years with sub-1,000 highway fatalities, with 927 in 2010 and 918 in 2011. It appears the 2012 fatality total will once again be below 1,000, but fatalities this year have been consistently higher when compared to last year. With just 3 days left in the year, motor vehicle fatalities are 36 higher than at this point last year.
IDOT and law enforcement recommend designating a sober driver and not letting friends and family members drive drunk. These are just two of several simple steps to avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for drunk driving. Other important tips include:
• Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver before going out and give that person your keys.
• If you’ve been drinking, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely.
• Use your community’s designated driver program.
• Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement.
• Wear your seat belt and make sure all passengers are safely buckled up. It is your best defense against a drunk driver.
To view a preliminary daily snapshot of Illinois crash data for 2012, please go to http://wrc.dot.il.gov/fatalcrash/crashdata.aspx on the internet.