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Drunk Driving and Seat Belt Patrols Scheduled Through First Weekend of 2014

SPRINGFIELD, IL – As 2013 comes to an end, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois State Police and over 250 law enforcement agencies across the state today reminded Illinois motorists that they will put in overtime during the New Year’s holiday and into 2014. This final push has a dual purpose: Zero motor vehicle fatalities during New Year’s; and a strong, safe start to 2014.

Hundreds of additional law enforcement hours funded with federal funds through IDOT will provide roadside safety checks, seat belt enforcement zones and other patrols reminding motorists to “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and “Click It or Ticket.” This statewide effort will ramp up during New Year’s Eve and continue strong through the first weekend of 2014 to help counteract what can tragically be one of the most dangerous times on Illinois roads.

IDOT crash data shows in the last five years (2008-2012) during the New Year’s holiday, 38 people died in motor vehicle crashes on Illinois public roadways. Fifteen, or 40 percent, of those 38 individuals, died in crashes involving at least one driver who had been drinking. During the same five-year timeframe on New Year’s, 2,868 people were injured.

During the previous New Year’s holiday, seven people lost their lives and 664 were injured in motor vehicle crashes on Illinois public roadways. Three of the seven fatalities resulted from crashes involving at least one drinking driver.

“Unfortunately, New Year’s on Illinois roads is deadly and can be one of most dangerous times of the year because of drunk drivers,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “Motorists can expect to see Illinois State Police and hundreds of other local law enforcement officers in every corner of our state working hard to get drunk drivers off the road and keep the roads safe.”

“Getting behind the wheel after drinking too much is a criminal act that jeopardizes your safety and the safety of others on our roads. If you are going to drink, plan another way home before the celebration begins, and always buckle up in the front seat and back,” Secretary Schneider continued.

In 2009, 911 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes on Illinois public roadways, marking the first time in the Twentieth Century that Illinois experienced fewer than 1,000 fatalities on its roadways. Since then, Illinois has had 3 additional years with sub-1,000 highway fatalities. While it appears the 2013 fatality total will once again fall below 1,000, it is of concern that fatalities have risen slightly in the last two years and 2013 looks to be the third year in which a fatality increase will be recorded. As of Friday, December 27, with just 4 days left in the year, motor vehicle fatalities were 21 higher than at this point last year.

IDOT and law enforcement recommend designating a sober driver and not letting friends and family members drive drunk. These are just two of several simple steps to avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for drunk driving. Other important tips include:

· Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver before going out and give that person your keys.

· If you’ve been drinking, 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 drunk drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement.

· Wear your seat belt and make sure all passengers are safely buckled up. It is your best defense against a drunk driver.

To view a preliminary daily snapshot of Illinois crash data for 2013, please visit http://wrc.dot.il.gov/fatalcrash/crashdata.aspx.

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