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Review of Illinois Traffic Safety Programs
Monday, September 18, 2017

The Illinois State Police increased enforcement efforts to maximize the safety of the traveling public over busy holidays throughout the year by participating in traffic safety programs. The holiday safety campaigns managed by the Illinois Department of Transportation through its Bureau Safety Programs and Engineering help to reduce the number of accidents involving injuries and fatalities. Through grant funding, these campaigns allow state and local law enforcement agencies that work in conjunction to identify traffic related violations including impaired driving.

Safety Programs Catch Violators

Throughout the year, nearly 150 local and state police agencies in Illinois participate in enforcement activities during the state’s major holidays. This includes increasing patrol hours during the day and night and focusing their “concentration on impaired driving violations.” During this timeframe, citations for traffic violations rise significantly. Been stopped by the police is known to increase public awareness of the seriousness of breaking the law by driving recklessly, carelessly, distracted or drunk. Citations involving occupant restraint violations also increase during daylight hours, when observing the driver can be conducted.

The state conducts these safety programs over numerous holidays days, weeks and seasons including on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, and others. The influx of traffic over the holidays typically result in more accidents with injuries and fatalities.

During this time, the State Police and local law enforcement agencies remain diligent by focusing on reducing the number of injuries and fatalities occurring on the roadways, streets, highways, and expressways throughout Illinois. These safety campaigns are successful because police officers maintain a heavy presence in urban and rural communities while searching for motorists disobeying traffic laws that can endanger their lives and the lives of others.

Identifying Dangerous Traffic Areas

Government agencies involved in reducing injuries and fatalities on the state’s roadways say there are many more safety campaigns to come until compliance and wearing a seatbelt is 100%.This is because data collected during and after the safety campaigns through surveys show across Illinois the use of seatbelts is approximately 93 percent. However, approximately 50 percent of all individuals killed in vehicle accidents in the State were not wearing their seatbelt at the time of the accident.

Past Successful Traffic Safety Campaigns

Some of the major traffic safety campaigns initiated by Illinois DOT in conjunction with law enforcement agencies that have proven to be highly successful in recent years at increasing public awareness about speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving and safety belt compliance include:

  • Buckle up, America.

  • Cells phones save lives. Pull over and report a drunken driver.

  • Children in back.

  • Click It or Ticket.

  • Drink and drive? Police in Illinois have your number.

  • Drive smart, drive sober.

  • Drive sober or get pulled over.

  • Drunk driving. Over the limit. Under arrest.

  • Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.

  • Police in Illinois Arrest Drunk Drivers.

  • Start seeing motorcycles.

  • Wanna drink and drive, police in Illinois will show you the bars.

  • You drink and drive. You lose.

The safety campaigns’ collective effort by state agencies help remind motorists to be cautious when driving. This includes designating a driver in the group prior to drinking alcohol, reducing speed, always buckling up, and avoiding distractions behind the wheel.

The state’s current enforcement and impaired drinking education campaigns are promoted throughout the year. This is because the public has benefited greatly by increasing traffic safety messages delivered through earned and paid media including television, radio, the Internet, and other social media sites all year-long.

These campaigns attempt to target specific violations to change motorists and motorcyclist’s behavior safety issues. The campaign uses data collected from previous years to identify rural and urban areas that are overrepresented in accidents involving distraction, recklessness, and alcohol use.

Fewer Distraction-Related Accidents

The safety program focuses on discouraging distracted driving, which continues to be one of the leading causes of most accidents on Illinois roadways. By educating the public, these campaigns emphasize the leading causes of most accidents including:

  • Using Electronic Devices – Many drivers are tempted to quickly check their phone for a text message. However, they can easily drift into another lane or dramatically reduced their speed far below the posted speed limit. Statistics released by the National Safety Council reveal that 25 percent of all vehicle crashes are caused by cell phone distraction.

  • Failing to Buckle Up – Even though clicking a seat belt takes only a moment, nearly half of the adults and teenagers who lost their lives in automobile accidents in 2014 failed to wear theirs.

  • Tailgating – Riding too close to the bumper of the vehicle ahead is a leading cause of many accidents occurring in Illinois. The action of the driver to slam on their brakes or swerve out of their lane can easily endanger the tailgating driver and their passengers.

  • Staying in the Passing Lane – Illinois law requires that slower vehicles move into the right lane to allow other vehicles to pass on the left, regardless of their speed in congested or fast-moving traffic. Moving over into the slow lane minimize the potential for a serious accident.

  • Failing to Use Turn Signals – Motorists communicate to each other in several ways that don’t involve speech. Using turn signals provide a clear obvious intention of what the driver is about to do. Every motorist should use their traffic signals when turning or changing lanes to allow other drivers in the surrounding area to react accordingly.

  • Eating While Driving – Consuming beverages like sodas and coffee and/or eating snacks or meals when driving can cause significant distractions that could be life-threatening if the driver swerves out of their lane, loses control or slams into the vehicle ahead. Making the decision to never eat or drink beverages while driving can save lives and reduce the number of accidents occurring in the state.

  • Putting on Makeup – Many individuals live a hurried life and never seem to have adequate time to groom themselves or put on makeup before leaving home. However, applying lipstick, combing hair or performing other grooming activities creates a dangerous driving environment for all the surrounding motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians sharing the roadway. Finished getting dressed before leaving for work, school or an appointment.

Reducing DUI Accidents

The Illinois Department of Transportation routinely conducts safety campaigns to reduce the number of driving under the influence-related accidents occurring on the state’s highways, rural roads, and city streets. DUIs refer to drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs including abuse, illegal, or prescribed.

Illinois law enforcement officers have the legal right to arrest drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. Even so, in Illinois, the officer has the discretion to cite a driver for DUI with the BAC between 0.05 percent and 0.08 percent, even though a statutory summary suspension is not triggered at these lower concentrations.

However, if the motorist is driving drunk with a concentrated blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent, and refuses to be tested by the officer in the field, their decision can trigger an immediate suspension of their license. This means that the officer can arrest the drunk driver taken to jail to “dry out” and put up bail. The officer must issue a receipt that allows the motorist who was pulled over for DUI to continue driving for 45 days after attending their arraignment. This provides the opportunity to fight the arrest and suspend license before the suspension goes into effect on the 46th day.

Most motorists who are guilty of drunk driving will face criminal penalties including a one-year driver’s license revocation if the driver is 21 years or older, or a two-year driver’s license revocation for drivers under 21. In addition, the drunk driver can also be imprisoned for six months and fined $1000 or ordered to perform community service while attending alcohol and drug programs.

Reduce Seatbelt Violations

Most motorists understand the importance of wearing a seatbelt to remain safe while driving. Even so, the Illinois Department of Transportation conducts seatbelt awareness safety campaigns in an effort to alert the public of the dangers of driving unbuckled.

The Illinois state legislature has enacted mandatory seat belt laws for adults, teenagers, and children that must be strictly followed under certain circumstances. This includes:

  • Front Seat and Backseat Riders – Any individual riding in the front seat of a moving vehicle must be securely restrained with a safety belt. To remain compliant with Illinois’ graduated licensing program, drivers who are 16 or 17 years old and every passenger under 19 years old must be buckled up while riding in either the front or back seat.

  • Keeping Children Safe – Drivers of every age are responsible for child passengers who are seven years old or younger by ensuring each young child is safely restrained in a child safety seat that is appropriately designed for the height, weight, and age.

These year-round safety programs have been highly effective at increasing public awareness of the dangers irresponsible driving on Illinois roads. These programs provide information on how to be a responsible motorist all year-long.

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