SPRINGFIELD – As thousands of people plan to hit the roadways during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois State Police (ISP), and hundreds of other local police agencies are teaming up to crackdown on drivers who fail to buckle up.
“The facts are clear - buckling up saves lives,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “As millions of Americans drive to celebrate the holiday with friends and family, the simplest thing you can do to protect yourself and your family in a car is wear seatbelts.”
Police officers will enforce a “zero-tolerance” approach to drivers who fail to buckle up during the upcoming “Click It or Ticket” mobilization, as police and sheriff’s departments across the state set up numerous day and night time safety belt enforcement zones. The Click It or Ticket campaign will run in conjunction with the Thanksgiving Combined Accident Reduction Effort (CARE) from Nov. 16 until Dec. 2. The State Police alone will conduct over 2,100 details focusing on safety belt enforcement, speed reduction, impaired driving, and underage drinking in an effort to decrease fatalities and personal injury crashes.
In addition, ISP will continue an initiative introduced earlier this year called “Stay Alive on the I’s”. The enforcement initiative begins on Wednesday, Nov. 21, at noon and continues until 10 p.m. During that time, all interstates will be saturated with Troopers placed every 10 miles along interstate corridors. The “Stay Alive on the I’s” enforcement initiative concludes on Sunday, Nov. 25, with a detail from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.
“Police agencies throughout Illinois are joining together this Thanksgiving holiday with one simple goal – saving lives on our roadways,” said Larry Trent, Director of the Illinois State Police. “As we reflect on what we are thankful for this holiday season, please make sure to wear your safety belt and slow down.”
In 2006, 17 fatal crashes resulting in 20 fatalities occurred during the five day Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
"Since Gov. Blagojevich signed the primary safety belt enforcement law in 2003, Illinois has seen a record increase in safety belt use, and fatalities have dropped by 200 a year, to the lowest level since 1924. But there are still far too many people who fail to buckle up, both day and night,” said Secretary of Transportation Milton R. Sees. “Fatalities and injuries increase during holiday travel - motorists must remember to buckle up at all times."
Governor Blagojevich signed the primary enforcement law in July of 2003. Prior to that, police could not pull a driver over based solely on a seatbelt violation. Since 2003 there has been an increase in safety belt use of 14 percent; in June 2003 Illinois’ safety belt compliance was 76%, it climbed to 83% in June of 2004 and 86% in June of 2005 and 88 percent in June of 2006. In June 2007, the safety belt compliance rate was at an all time record rate of 90.1%.
In addition to more people wearing their seatbelts, fatalities on Illinois roads have steadily declined since the Governor signed the primary safety belt enforcement law. In 2003 there were 1,454 total fatalities, in 2004 there were 1,355 and in 2005 there were 1,363. There were 109 fewer fatalities in 2006 than in 2005, down to 1,254, the lowest number of fatalities since 1924.
The Governor has made improving traffic safety issues a priority for his administration and has actively supported legislation to reduce fatalities on our state’s highways. Previous traffic safety measures signed by the Governor include:
- A law that doubles the amount of time a teen must have behind the wheel before receiving their license;
- A law that bans teen drivers from carrying more than one passenger for the first six months after receiving his or her license;
- A law that bans cell phone use by drivers under 18;
- Requiring drivers under 18 to make sure that their teen passengers are buckled properly in the front and back seats;
- A law that rose the age at which children must be in booster seats from 4 to 8.
- Increased penalties for drivers over the age of 21 who transport a child under the age of 16 while impaired;
- Chemical testing required for those arrested for hit-and-run;
- Harsher sentencing for causing a death while driving impaired; and
- Tougher penalties for driving on a DUI-revoked license.