SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn today urged families across Illinois to stay safe this weekend as they celebrate and remember our brave servicemembers who gave their lives to protect our freedom. The governor has directed a number of state agencies to take every step necessary to ensure the safety of all Illinois residents.
“Memorial Day is a time for families to come together and honor our servicemembers who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Governor Quinn said. “But, as we celebrate with barbeques, boating and baseball, everyone must remember to be alert, follow the law and stay safe.”
The Illinois State Police (ISP), Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and State Fire Marshal will be working together this weekend to ensure public safety. Some of the steps they are taking include:
- A “Click it or Ticket” mobilization to enforce seat belt laws;
- A major crackdown on DUI and distracted driving such as texting;
- The “Wear It!” campaign to get boaters to wear a life jacket, and
- Ten tips from the State Fire Marshal to curtail outdoor cooking accidents.
In 2012, 955 people lost their lives on Illinois roads and many were not wearing seat belts. Thanks to the IDOT “Click it or Ticket” campaign, seat belt usage has jumped to 93.6 percent in Illinois, among the nation’s highest rates. IDOT studies have shown that seat belt usage drops drastically during nighttime hours.
“Even with nine out of ten motorists buckling up, far too many people are dying unbuckled,” IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider said. “This needs to stop. That is why we are working with the State Police to ensure that everyone is wearing a seat belt.”
The state of Illinois has received $1.2 million in federal safety dollars which is being made available to ISP and 540 local law enforcement agencies to enforce seat belt laws, as well as DUI and distracted driving laws. From Friday, May 24 through Monday, May 27, troopers will push for zero fatalities with stepped-up patrols on Illinois’ 20,000 miles of roadways. During the 2012 Memorial Day weekend, ISP issued 3,189 tickets for speeding, 1,468 for seat belt violations and 27 for distracted driving violations, while making 177 DUI arrests.
“Our goal this weekend is to enforce safety belt compliance, remove impaired drivers, stop speeders and nab distracted drivers before tragedy strikes,” ISP Director Hiram Grau said.
Impaired or distracted drivers are also found on Illinois waterways. Last year, 17 people were killed in Illinois boating-related accidents and alcohol was a factor in five of the fatalities. The IDNR Conservation Police will be out patrolling public waters this weekend to strictly enforce laws relating to operating under the influence and life jackets. Illinois law requires that personal flotation devices (PFDs) be available for every person on a boat and that anyone under age 13 must wear it at all times.
“Fastening a flotation device takes just seconds, but that action can save the rest of your life,” Illinois Conservation Police Chief Rafael Gutierrez said. “Life jackets are only effective, though, if they’re worn. So, ‘Wear It!’”
After Illinois’ long spring, many people will be grilling outdoors for the first time this weekend. Between 2010 and 2012, a total of 155 fires caused by the use of grills were reported in Illinois. Between May and September of 2012 alone, 84 grill accidents resulted in more than $1 million in property losses.
“Grilling hot dogs or burgers may seem like a very simple tradition, but if proper fire safety is not in place, it could result in serious incidents or tragedies,” Illinois State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis said. “We encourage families to follow these ten safety tips.”
- Check that your grill is free of grease and fat buildup;
- Before using any barbecue, check it for leaks, cracks or brittleness;
- Do not overfill the propane tank;
- Make sure the grill is placed outdoors, away from the home, deck railings, overhanging branches and other hazardous areas;
- Do not use a barbecue in a garage, house, tent or trailer, as dangerous levels of carbon monoxide may accumulate;
- Keep pets and children away from the grilling area;
- Never leave a lit grill unattended;
- Wear clothing with short or tight-fitting sleeves while grilling. Use long-handed tools and flame resistant mitts;
- Never use any flammable liquid to start a fire other than lighting fluid. Never squirt fluid directly into a flame, and
- Keep a fire extinguisher that is rated (or intended) for use on flammable liquids and grease fires near the barbeque area. Do not use water on grease fires.
Governor Quinn also invited everyone to visit the Illinois Tourism website – www.enjoyillinois.com – for ideas on holiday weekend attractions.