Crash data reveals a high percentage of motorcyclists driving drunk on Illinois roadways in late afternoon

IDOT, A.B.A.T.E., Gold Wing Riders and Law Enforcement Work Together to Reinforce “Ride Sober or Get Pulled Over” Message to Save Lives


SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois State Police (ISP) and motorcycle safety advocates joined forces to remind Illinois motorcyclists that mixing alcohol and motorcycle riding can lead to tragic results. The “Ride Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign is paying close attention to motorcycle riders as Illinois crash data reveals the percentage of drunk motorcycle riders (motorcycle operators with a BAC of 0.08 or higher) involved in fatal crashes during late afternoon and early evening hours are more than double that of drunk drivers of any other type of passenger vehicle.

“The data indicates that many people are riding drunk in late afternoon and we must put a stop to this trend before more lives are lost on Illinois roadways,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “Ride Sober or Get Pulled Over is a very simple life-saving message for these individuals. Their behavior is dangerous and is criminal, and law enforcement officers will continue to find them and arrest them.”

IDOT and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows for the 3 p.m. to 5:59 p.m. timeframe (see chart below) that 15 percent of motorcycle fatalities occurring during that time involve a drunk rider compared to 6 percent of passenger vehicle fatalities during the same time. Data shows from 6 p.m. to 8:59 p.m. to be even worse as 24 percent of motorcycle fatalities at that time involve a drunk rider compared to 11 percent of passenger cars.   

“Whether you are traveling in a vehicle or riding on a motorcycle, safety should be the number one priority,” said ISP Colonel Michael Zerbonia. “Every second counts when it comes to road safety and our officers will be enforcing all traffic laws and reminding motorists that seatbelts save lives.”

In 2012 in Illinois, 148 motorcyclists died in motor vehicle crashes. That was a slight increase from 2011 motorcycle fatalities when 145 motorcyclists lost their lives. Motorcycle riders continue to be over-represented in Illinois motor vehicle crash fatalities. In 2012, motorcycles made up 3 percent of all registered motor vehicles, yet motorcycle riders represented more than 15 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities.

“When motorcyclists fail to make smart choices, their decisions may have fatal results,” said Bruce Liebe, President of the Lincoln Land Chapter of A.B.A.T.E. 

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Illinois Passenger Vehicle and Motorcycle Fatalities Involving Drunk Drivers by Time of Day (2007-2011)
Time of Day Total Motor Vehicle Fatalities Involving a Drunk Driver* Percent of Total Motor Vehicle Fatalities Involving a Drunk Driver* Total Motorcycle Fatalities Involving a Drunk Rider** Percent of Total Motorcycle Fatalities Involving a Drunk Rider**
12:00am-2:59am 422 34% 41 19%
3:00am-5:59am 237 19% 22 10%
6:00am-8:59am 54 4% 6 3%
9:00am-11:59am 27 2% 7 3%
12:00pm-2:59pm 36 3% 8 4%
3:00pm-5:59pm 68 6% 32 15%
6:00pm-8:59pm 137 11% 52 24%
9:00pm-11:59pm 244 20% 45 21%
Totals 1,225 100% 213 100%
  * Fatalities involving at least one passenger vehicle driver with a BAC of 0.08 or greater**Fatalities involving at least one motorcycle rider (operator) with a BAC of 0.08 or greaterNote:  For purposes of this report, a passenger vehicle is any vehicle, other than a motorcycle, that is licensed to operate on Illinois public roadways.