The Illinois State Fire Marshal Encourages Residents to Focus on Child Pedestrian Safety


Safe Driving in Neighborhood Streets Can Keep Children Alive


SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) invites Illinois residents to take a more proactive step to ensure the safety of children by slowing their speed while driving throughout neighborhoods streets.  As the start of a new school year is approaching, it is imperative to remind drivers to slow down, obey traffic signals, and respect speed limits around schools and residential streets where children often play.

OSFM echoes the message of the national campaign called Keep Kids Alive, Drive 25.  The goal of this program is to remind drivers to lower their speed to 25 mph in residential areas and in school zones.

“Speeding in residential neighborhoods represents a threat to our children’s safety,” said Larry Matkaitis, State Fire Marshal.  “We ask that drivers be more conscious about lowering their speed while driving in residential communities in an effort to help keep our children safe”.

Running stop signs and speeding in residential neighborhoods are the greatest complaints to police departments by residents.  This represents a serious threat to public safety, not only for children, but also for adults and seniors. Many drivers tend to ignore speed limit signs, and are often caught driving between 40 to 50 mph in residential areas and around schools. 

Distracted drivers were the main cause of 387,000 injuries and more than 3,000 fatalities across the country in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

OSFM also reminds parents to obey state laws that require the use of seat belts for adults and children while driving or riding in a vehicle and the use of car seats for infants and children.  In addition, the public must be reminded that in Illinois it is prohibited to text while driving.

State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis commended Governor Pat Quinn for signing two new laws aimed at reducing the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers in Illinois. One law prohibits the use of all hand held mobile phones while driving, and the second increases the penalties where any use of an electronic device while driving has been the cause of an accident. These new laws take effect January 1, 2014.

The following are additional safety tips to keep children safe:

Do not allow your children to play in the street.  Set limits for your child.  Make sure they have safe places to play.  The street is not one of them.

Always know where your child is.  Children under 7 must always be accompanied by an adult outside.  Know who they’re with and where they are.

Make sure your children are buckled up or secured in the proper child safety seat.  Lead by example by always wearing your seat belt.

Teach your child to cross the street correctly.  Tell them to always use the nearest crosswalk when available, and to stop, look both ways and make sure the road is clear.

Make your child wear the proper helmet and pads when riding a bike, scooter, skateboard or skating.

For more information about children safety please visit the Keep Kids Alive, Drive 25 website at: