CHICAGO – Just days before millions of Americans will hit the highways, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois State Police (ISP), the Secretary of State Police, the Chicago Police Department and hundreds of other local police agencies in Illinois announced they will team up to crackdown on drivers who don’t buckle up during a two-week period around the Thanksgiving holiday. Also over the holiday, IDOT will debut two new Public Service Announcements in its “True Stories” ad campaign, featuring real circumstances to remind drivers why wearing their seatbelts is so important.
“We know millions of Americans will be driving this holiday to celebrate with family and friends. To prevent this family holiday from turning tragic, make sure everyone wears their seatbelts. There’s no doubt about the fact that seatbelts save lives. It’s the simplest thing you can do to protect yourself in a car,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
Police officers will enforce a “zero-tolerance” approach to drivers who fail to buckle up during the state’s latest “Click It or Ticket” campaign, as a total of 204 police and sheriff’s departments around the state will set up 1,018 safety belt enforcement zones; these will include 360 night time enforcement zones, a first for the state. In addition, State Troopers will conduct 55 safety belt enforcement details and the Secretary of State Police will conduct roving patrols on 31 different routes throughout the state.
The Chicago Police Department will conduct 140 of the safety belt enforcement zones throughout the city during the two week period.
Since Gov. Blagojevich signed the primary enforcement law into law in 2003, Illinois has seen a 12 percent increase in safety belt use, reaching a record high of 88 percent this year. In the same period, fatal crashes have declined sharply in Illinois, with the state on pace to have the fewest fatalities since 1924.
“Safety belt use in Illinois has steadily increased since the Governor signed the primary enforcement law,” said IDOT Secretary Timothy W. Martin. “And this means we’re saving lives. We’ve achieved this progress through a combination of enforcement and education. But we can still do better. The roads are going to be packed with families over the Thanksgiving holidays, and that’s why IDOT is working with police across the state to make sure everyone is buckled up and reaches their destination safely.”
ISP Director Larry Trent said: “It’s been proven over and over that buckling up saves lives, and that’s why our Troopers will be out in force over this two week period taking a zero-tolerance approach to safety belt violators. Either you’re wearing your safety belt or you’ll get a ticket.”
IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety is funding the mobilization from Nov. 20 through Dec. 3 with $1 million to cover overtime for police agencies and $400,000 for a media campaign on TV and radio.
The media campaign will feature two new PSA’s that tell “True Stories” about highway safety.
One tells the story of Dan McGlathery, of Wheaton, who was in the habit of not wearing a safety belt until he was cited for not doing so during a Click It or Ticket campaign in May 2005. McGlathery grudgingly started buckling after that, and it wound up saving his life when he was in a rollover crash in September of 2005. IDOT officials presented McGlathery with a “Saved by the Belt” award at a news conference in Chicago.
The second new PSA tells the story of Brett Karlin of Long Grove who was killed in a high speed crash in July 2004. After his death, Karlin’s heart, liver and kidneys were donated to patients in need of organs. As a result of the crash, Karlin’s close friends started a foundation called Brakes for Brett. The group’s goals are to educate young adults about traffic safety and the importance of organ donation.
IDOT presented Michael Karlin, Brett’s father, with a Safety Partnership Award, for his work on behalf of Brakes for Brett.
The new “True Stories” PSAs will be airing on stations around the state.