From Illinois Business Journal news services
SPRINGFIELD – With the busy summer travel season underway, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police and some 350 local law enforcement agencies are reminding motorists to mind themselves on the road.
“We are proud to work with our partners in law enforcement this weekend and throughout the summer as we strive toward the ultimate goal of zero traffic fatalities,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “The fact is that more than 900 people still lose their lives in vehicle crashes each year in Illinois. These deaths almost always are preventable. “
Throughout the holiday weekend, Illinois motorists will see hundreds of seat belt enforcement zones and other enforcement patrols looking for seat-belt law violators and impaired drivers as part of the national Click It or Ticket campaign.
“Last year during the Memorial Day weekend, the ISP removed 147 intoxicated drivers from Illinois roadways. This year, the ISP will again focus on impaired drivers by using roadside safety checks and roving patrols,” said ISP Lt. Col. James Winters. “Help make travel safer this holiday weekend by designating a driver before going out.”
New IDOT data highlight the dramatic effect that increased seat belt usage is having on traffic fatalities in Illinois, saving an estimated 10,000 lives since the state’s first seat belt law was enacted in 1985.
The state’s first seat belt law was a “secondary” violation, meaning motorists could only be ticketed after they were pulled over for another offense. Before the law took effect, statewide seat belt usage was 16 percent, with more than 1,500 dying annually in crashes. Over the next 15 years, seat belt usage steadily rose to 66 percent. In 2003, Illinois adopted a “primary” seat belt law, which allowed police to pull over and ticket unbuckled motorists. The law had an immediate effect on the statewide seat belt usage rate, which rose to 83 percent in 2004, steadily climbing to an all-time high of 94.1 percent in 2014.
This rise in seat belt usage correlates with a drop in fatalities. Last year, provisional statistics show 924 traffic deaths in Illinois, a record sixth-consecutive year of fewer than 1,000.
Click It or Ticket coincides with the debut of the latest episode of IDOT’s online series “The Driving Dead,” featuring Michael Rooker, formerly of the popular TV show “The Walking Dead.” The new episode can be viewed starting Friday at TheDrivingDeadseries.com.
The series depicts the zombie-filled adventures of Rooker and other characters, who find themselves faced with decisions regarding the dangers of driving impaired and not buckling up. The first two installments have generated more than 1.3 million views, making it IDOT’s most successful multimedia campaign ever.
For more information about the Click It or Ticket campaign, go to buckleupillinois.org