CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Division of Traffic Safety today released data showing a lower number of alcohol-involved, motor vehicle fatalities in Illinois. The reduction in alcohol-involved fatalities has occurred steadily since 2002 with the largest decline occurring between 2007 and 2008.
The announcement comes as the Illinois State Police join local law enforcement agencies throughout Illinois for the Labor Day, You Drink & Drive. You Lose. impaired driving crackdown. For the next two weeks, over 300 agencies will partner with the Illinois State Police in conducting nearly 200 roadside safety checks, impaired driving patrols and nighttime safety belt patrols. Motorists are being warned that impaired driving or failure to buckle up, especially during late-night hours, will result in arrests or safety belt citations.
“IDOT and its partners are committed to the fight against impaired driving in Illinois. We are very gratified that in recent years Illinois has seen reductions in the number of fatalities caused by impaired drivers,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. “These reductions represent lives saved and are the result of the remarkable dedication shown by the Illinois State Police and local law enforcement agencies in every part of our state, along with more drivers and passengers buckling up. Combined with the educational efforts of the You Drink & Drive. You Lose. and Click It or Ticket campaigns along with increased law enforcement efforts, we are extremely pleased that fewer people are driving impaired and more people are wearing their safety belts.”
“It is inappropriate to drink and drive regardless of the time of day," said Acting Illinois State Police Director Jonathon Monken. "Statistics tells us your chances of being involved in an alcohol related crash or fatal crash increases dramatically at night. Therefore, in addition to efforts put forth during the holiday travel period, the Illinois State Police will focus our efforts on DUI and seat belt enforcement during night time details throughout the Labor Day weekend."
According to data from IDOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of motor vehicle fatalities involving a drinking driver declined modestly but steadily from 2002 through 2008, culminating with a 16-percent decrease between 2007 and 2008. The number of fatalities involving a legally impaired driver (0.08 BAC and above) also declined from 2002 through 2008, and the total number of fatalities decreased by 77 between 2007 and 2008, a reduction of about 18 percent.
Another encouraging sign of improvement is the reduction in the Illinois’ alcohol-related fatality rate, the ratio of alcohol-involved fatalities to total annual vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Illinois. This rate has been above 0.50 for several years in Illinois, but fell to 0.48 in 2007 and to a low of 0.41 in 2008.
Now through Labor Day, law enforcement throughout Illinois will be conducting more patrols designed to enforce impaired driving and safety belt laws, especially during late-night hours. For more information about the impaired driving program in Illinois, please visit www.drivesoberillinois.org