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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2009

Illinois Department of Transportation announces safety belt use reaches a new record of 91.7 percent
Fatal crashes are down sharply in Illinois in 2009, as state continues to make gains in saving lives

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Gary Hannig today announced that Illinois has continued to make gains in roadway safety in 2009, as the number of motorists and front seat passengers who buckle up in the state edged upwards to a record 91.7 percent.  The Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety reports the overall number of fatalities on Illinois roads is down by 10.3 percent on a provisional basis for the first six months of 2009; from 484 in 2008, to 434 in 2009.
 
“This is great news and evident of the hard work from IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety,” said Secretary Hannig.  “Our numbers prove that safety belts save lives and we hope the upward trend continues.”
 
Since July of 2003, safety belt use in Illinois has gone up 15.5 percent, from 76.2 percent in 2003 to 91.7 percent in the statewide survey, just completed by IDOT’s Traffic Safety Division. Prior to enactment of the primary enforcement law, police could not pull a driver over based solely on a safety belt violation.  After the law took effect in 2004 and police began aggressive safety belt enforcement, safety belt use climbed to 83% in June of 2004, 86% in June of 2005, 88% percent in June of 2006, 90.1% in 2007, 90.5% in June of 2008 and 91.7% in June of 2009.
 
In 2009, during the May holiday period, local and state enforcement agencies joined forces day and night across Illinois for enforcement blitz that delivered IDOT’s message “Click It or Ticket”.  The mobilization is supported by national and state paid advertising and earned media campaigns aimed at raising awareness before the Click It or Ticket Campaign.  Overall, 196 local law enforcement agencies and the Illinois State Police conducted enforcement activities during the campaign and issued over 75,886 citations, 58,356 (76.9%) of which were safety belt and child safety seat citations. 

Only 16 States and Territories in the country attained that level of safety belt use so far.  In addition to more people wearing their safety belts, traffic fatalities on Illinois roads have steadily declined since the passage of the primary safety belt enforcement law. In 2003, there were 1,454 total fatalities; in 2004, there were 1,355; in 2005, there were 1,363; in 2006, there were 1,254; in 2007, there were 1,248; and in 2008, there were 1,043 total fatalities. The past two years have seen the lowest number of traffic fatalities since 1923, when there were 1,031. 

For more information on the recent safety belt usage rate refer to http://www.dot.il.gov/trafficsafety/tsevaluation.html.



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