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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 2010

Illinois Department of Transportation announces record 92.6 percent statewide safety belt compliance rate
Highway fatalities on decline for first half of 2010

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Gary Hannig today announced that Illinois has continued to make remarkable gains in roadway safety in 2010, as the number of motorists and front seat passengers who buckle up in the state has reached a record of 92.6 percent. The Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety reports the overall number of fatalities on Illinois roads is down by 16.8 percent on a provisional basis for the first six months of 2010; from 434 in 2009, to 361 in 2010.
 
“We are extremely proud of the dedication, hard work and diligence shown by IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety, our partners, and Illinois motorists whose positive efforts have made this historic achievement possible,” said IDOT Secretary Gary Hannig. “Since the primary safety belt law took effect in 2004, the compliance rate has climbed from 83 percent to the most recent 92.6 percent. We continue to celebrate incremental improvements to the statewide compliance rate; simply put, when more motorists buckle up, more lives can potentially be saved.”

 Since July of 2003, safety belt use in Illinois has gone up 16.4 percentage points, from 76.2 percent in 2003 to 92.6 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 percent in June of 2004, 86 percent in June of 2005, 88 percent in June of 2006, 90.1 percent in 2007, 90.5 percent in June of 2008, 91.7 percent in June of 2009 and 92.6 percent in June of 2010.

“During the past six years we have seen the statewide compliance usage rate climb to a remarkable 92.6 percent,” said IDOT’s Traffic Safety Director Michael Stout.  “This incredible milestone would not have been possible without the hundreds of dedicated IDOT staff and partners throughout the state working tirelessly to make our highways safer.  We believe the decrease in Illinois fatalities is a direct result of the increase in safety belt usage.  We look forward to helping this number increase in our effort to save lives.” 
 
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 year 2009 had the lowest number of traffic fatalities since 1921, when there were 887.

For more information on the recent safety belt usage rate refer to www.dot.il.gov/trafficsafety/tsevaluation.html. To view a short video exemplifying why some Illinois residents are making the choice to buckle up, please visit IDOT’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2gDyuyaeWk.



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