Illinois Department of Transportation, Ann L. Schneider, Secretary
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2006


Contacts:

Matt Vanover (IDOT) 217-558-0517
Mike Claffey (IDOT) 312-814-3957
Marisa Kollias (IDOT) 312-814-4693
Lincoln Hampton (ISP) 312-814-8367
Rick Hector (ISP) 217-782-6637
 

Memorial Day “Click it or Ticket” to be Largest Safety Belt Enforcement in Illinois History

IDOT, ISP Stress Traffic Safety; Teaming up with more than 350 local police agencies, Missouri and Iowa to make the roads safer

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Illinois State Police (ISP) are teaming up with more than 350 local police agencies to set up the largest safety belt enforcement effort ever conducted in Illinois. During the Memorial Day “Click it or Ticket” mobilization, motorists can expect more than 5,000 safety belt enforcement zones throughout the state and 1,400 saturation patrols. Approximately 200 local agencies will be participating in the Memorial Day “Click it or Ticket” Mobilization for the first time and Illinois will be running special patrols in coordination with Iowa and Missouri to focus on traffic safety issues during the mobilization.

“Memorial Day marks the beginning of the busy summer holiday travel season and the single most important way to protect yourself and your family in the car is by buckling up,” said IDOT Secretary Timothy W. Martin. “Governor Blagojevich signed the primary safety belt law in 2003 and we have seen a 10 percent increase in belt usage while at the same time a reduction in fatalities. We know safety belts save lives and will continue to step up our efforts on enforcement.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation was recently singled out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for having the greatest amount of safety belt enforcement zones in the Midwest during 2005. In 2005, IDOT teamed up with state and local police on 4,590 safety belt zones and during the May enforcement alone there will be at least 5,200.

This year during the May mobilization, for the second year in a row, a special emphasis is being placed on safety belt enforcement in rural areas. While rural traffic deaths account for approximately 60 percent of all traffic fatalities, only one-fifth of Americans live in rural communities. Approximately 100 agencies have signed on for the “Click it or Ticket” rural initiative, 65 for the first time. There will be at least 2,000 safety belt zones and approximately 450 saturation patrols in rural areas during this special enforcement.

“Our officers will be placing special emphasis on both residential and rural roadways,” ISP Director Larry Trent said. “Motorists are at equal risk of being involved in a traffic crash whether running an errand close to home or driving on an expressway or interstate. No matter the destination, always using your safety belt saves lives. We won’t compromise on this effort.”

IDOT and ISP are placing a greater emphasis this year on partnerships for traffic safety. During the May mobilization the Illinois agencies will be coordinating with their Missouri and Iowa counterparts to increase traffic safety in the Metro East and Quad Cities areas. 255 Iowa agencies will participate in a variety of events, including traffic safety checkpoints, enforcement zones, saturation patrols and a corridor project across the Northern three tiers of Iowa counties. In Missouri, 150 agencies will be conducting 460 targeted enforcement zones.

“We are proud to participate in these statewide enforcement programs,” said Colonel Roger Stottlemyre, Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. “Even as we enforce traffic laws, our officers are also trying to educate the public about the importance of safe and responsible driving. This part of our job is very important as we don’t want to lose a single member of our state and our communities in a traffic crash.”

IDOT and ISP also singled out the efforts of local students who are working to improve traffic safety in their central Illinois community. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley (GCMS) High School was singled out for Project Ignition. This group effort was inspired by the death of a classmate, one of two twin brothers who was killed in a tragic accident – the second twin survived because he was protected by a seatbelt. Students at GCMS produced DVDs, original soundtracks and power point presentations that were played throughout the community. Group members received $10,000 from State Farm Insurance to continue their traffic safety efforts and were singled out as national finalists in Project Ignition.

“Our students are pleased to be partnering with IDOT, the State Police and State Farm to get the word out during prom season about the need to buckle up and drive sober,” said Judy Weber-Jones, GCMS Driver’s Education Instructor. “Working together we can eliminate the number one killer of teens, motor vehicle crashes.”

"State Farm is committed to making our highways and roads safer. It is what being a Good Neighbor is all about,” said John Werner, Director of Strategic Resource Technology for State Farm. “We are proud of the young people at Gibson City and the other Project Ignition participants nationally who have made a difference in their peers’ lives."

Governor Blagojevich has made improving traffic safety a priority for his administration and has actively supported legislation to reduce fatalities on our state’s highways. Some of the measures put into effect by Governor Blagojevich include:

  • A law that bans teen drivers from carrying more than one passenger for the first six months after receiving their license;
  • A law that bans cell phone use by drivers under 18;
  • Requiring drivers under 18 to make sure that their teen passengers are buckled properly in the front and back seats;
  • The primary seat belt enforcement law that allows officers to stop and ticket drivers for not wearing a seat belt; and
  • A law that raised the age at which children must be in a restraint system or booster seat from 4 to 8.

Officials at the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) credit these measures with helping reduce the number of fatalities from 1,454 in 2003 to 1,355 in 2004 and 2005. In addition, an annual survey found that seat belt usage increased by 10 percent from 76 percent in 2003 to 86 percent in 2005.

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