CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois State Police (ISP), the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and hundreds of local Illinois law enforcement agencies today reminded motorists to drive sober or risk arrest this July 4th weekend. Gathered at recreational waterfront sites in 4 cities across the state, law enforcement announced they will be conducting late-night roadside safety checks, impaired driving patrols and safety belt enforcement zones in an effort to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries over the holiday weekend.
Data shows during last year’s 4th of July weekend (from 6 p.m. July 2 until midnight July 5) 13 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes and 5 of those fatalities involved a drinking driver. Additionally, 813 people were injured during the July 4th weekend last year.
In the last five years, during the summer months of June through August in Illinois, 101 of the 163 fatalities occurring between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. involved a drinking driver. That is 62 percent of the fatalities taking place at that time. The next-highest timeframe was midnight to 3 a.m. at 59 percent.
Compounding the problem is the fact that motorists buckle up at lower rates during late-night hours than daytime hours.
“July 4th is a great time of celebration for our country, but too often, those celebrations can turn deadly because of impaired driving and a failure to buckle up,” said IDOT Secretary Gary Hannig. “That is why IDOT is working with Illinois law enforcement to remind motorists to designate a sober driver before celebrating. If you don’t and you choose to drink and drive, you will be arrested.”
“Holiday weekends provide a great opportunity for family and friends to gather and celebrate, but the festivities are often short-lived when someone chooses to drive impaired,” said ISP Acting Director Jonathon Monken. "Our goal is to make the roads safer by taking a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to impaired drivers. To help us accomplish this goal, we encourage motorists to designate a sober driver and wear their safety belts.”
“Alcohol use is one of the leading factors in fatal recreational boating accidents nationwide. Our Conservation Police Officers work very hard to make sure Illinois public waters are safe for everyone to enjoy. We certainly want people to have a good time on the water but we have zero tolerance for anyone found operating a boat under the influence,” added IDNR Director Marc Miller.
IDOT recommends that motorists should always designate a sober driver and should also restrict friends and family members from driving impaired. These two recommendations are just two of several simple steps to avoid a tragic crash or an impaired driving arrest this July 4th. Other important tips include:
• Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver before going out and give that person your keys.
• If you are impaired, 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 impaired drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement by pulling over and dialing 911.
• Make sure everyone in your vehicle wears their safety belt. It is your best defense against an impaired driver.
The You Drink & Drive. You Lose crackdown began June 18 and runs through July 4. It is being supported by nearly $1 million in federal safety funds being made available by IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety. For more information about impaired driving in Illinois, please visit www.drivesoberillinois.org.