CHICAGO – As 2010 comes to an end, the Illinois Department of Transportation, state police and hundreds of local law enforcement agencies announce the Traffic Safety Countdown to 2011 that includes a coordinated statewide effort to boost enforcement over New Year’s weekend. The enforcement mobilization will further improve traffic safety in Illinois as the state continues on track to experience its second straight year with fewer than 1,000 highway fatalities.
In 2009 in Illinois, 911 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes. The result was a near 100-year low and marked the first year since early in the 20th Century that Illinois experienced fewer than 1,000 fatalities on its roadways. In fact, as of today, preliminary numbers show that 916 have died in crashes thus far in 2010. In comparison, this is just 8 more than the same time frame last year.
The statewide Click It or Ticket and You Drink & Drive. You Lose. crackdown will continue this week through year’s end with law enforcement in every corner of the state. In addition, late-night Illinois motorists will see hundreds of roadside safety checks, safety belt enforcement zones and saturation patrols this weekend looking for impaired drivers and safety belt law violators. The enforcement focus is on the deadly nighttime hours when more people drive impaired and fail to buckle up.
“IDOT continuously partners with state and local police to ensure motorists who choose to drive impaired are caught, arrested and removed from Illinois roadways,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. “Unfortunately, New Year’s Eve can be one of the deadliest and most dangerous times on Illinois roads due to an increase in impaired driving and fewer people buckling up. We advise motorists to please make the right decision every time by designating a sober driver before celebrating and always buckling up.”
“The Illinois State Police is fully committed to using every resource possible to make Illinois roads safer,” said Acting Illinois State Police Director Jonathon Monken. “Although the loss of even one life is one too many, the combined efforts of the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Transportation and local law enforcement agencies have contributed greatly to the reduction of traffic fatalities in Illinois. We are optimistic our holiday enforcement efforts will help Illinois conclude its second straight year with fewer than 1,000 fatalities.”
During the New Year’s holiday timeframe in 2009 (crashes occurring from 6 p.m. on December 31 through 11:59 a.m. on January 3), six people in Illinois died in motor vehicle crashes. Three of those deaths involved an impaired driver, and 477 people were injured in crashes during the same time period.
IDOT and law enforcement recommend designating a sober driver and not letting friends and family members drive impaired. These are just two of several simple steps to avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for impaired driving. 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.
• Wear your safety belt and make sure all passengers are safely buckled up. It is your best defense against an impaired driver.
The law enforcement crackdown is funded by federal traffic safety funds through IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety and runs concurrently with a media campaign that reminds motorists, “You Drink & Drive. You Lose.” and “Click It or Ticket.” To view a preliminary daily snapshot of Illinois crash data for 2010, please click on http://wrc.dot.il.gov/fatalcrash/crashdata.aspx.