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January 9, 2005 
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Gov. Blagojevich announces primary seatbelt enforcement contributes to lowest number of traffic deaths since 1943

First full year sees increased compliance; Preliminary total shows 113 fewer people killed in 2004
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Timothy W. Martin and Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Larry Trent announced today that preliminary figures indicate 113 fewer people were killed in traffic crashes in 2004 than in 2003. The Governor, Secretary Martin and Director Trent cite the state’s primary seat belt enforcement law as one of the main reasons for the reduction in highway fatalities.

“We know there are likely other factors that may have saved lives on Illinois roadways, but we also know that more than 100 people are walking around today in part because of the primary seatbelt enforcement law,” said Gov. Blagojevich.

“Because of the Governor’s commitment to traffic safety, our preliminary numbers are showing a reduction in the number of people being killed in traffic crashes by about 8%,” Secretary Martin said.

Governor Blagojevich signed the primary seat belt enforcement law in July of 2003. Since that time seat belt usage has increased by 7% in Illinois. During IDOT’s annual seat belt survey in June of 2003, 76% of motorists were wearing seat belts; one year later, after the enactment of the primary seat belt legislation, 83% of motorists were wearing their seat belts.

In 2003, 1454 people were killed on Illinois highways. A final report will not be available until a later date, but based upon preliminary information, that number has decreased to 1341 for the year 2004. If the numbers hold true, this would be the lowest number of traffic fatalities in Illinois since 1943, when 1328 people were killed in traffic crashes.

An amendment to the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act that went into effect on January 1, 2004, may also contribute to safer Illinois roadways. This law makes it the drivers’ responsibility to properly secure any child under the age of 8 in an appropriate child restraint system; previously, the law was directed at children under the age of 4. It also provides that every driver must ensure passengers between the age of 8 and 16 are properly secured.

“Buckling up, every trip, every time, is the simplest thing you can do to save your life or a loved one’s in a traffic crash,” Director Trent said. “Education is an important component to get people to buckle up, but unfortunately, some folks just don’t get it. That’s why we need enforcement, and the ability to pull someone over for not wearing their seat belt. We will continue to aggressively enforce the seat belt statutes.”

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