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July 13, 2006

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Gov. Blagojevich announces Illinois drivers are buckling up as they hit the roadways

First-half of 2006 reveals fewer traffic fatalities than ever before

SPRINGFIELD-Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today Illinois drivers are buckling up more than ever across the state. The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that 88% of drivers observed are wearing their seatbelts, up five percent from two years ago. At the same time, the number of traffic fatalities continues to decrease. For the first-half of this year, IDOT reports 607 fatalities, down from last year.

“We are proud to see Illinois drivers working to keep themselves protected on roadways by buckling up,” said Governor Blagojevich. “In 2003, we changed the law in Illinois, giving police the authority to stop motorists for not wearing their seat belt. As a result, we’re seeing more people than ever wearing their seat belts and we’re seeing lives being saved.”

Before the primary enforcement law, police could not pull a driver over based solely on a seatbelt violation. At that time, seatbelt usage was at 76 %. Since the Governor signed the law back in July of 2003, usage had rised to 86% in June of 2005, and 88% in June of 2006.

In 2004, the first year that marked primary enforcement, there were nearly 1355 fatalities reported. Through the first six months of this year, there have been 607 deaths, one less than last year, and 41 fewer than the same time period in 2004.

“The numbers show that Illinoisans are heeding our suggestions and buckling up more which is also resulting in fewer traffic fatalities,” said Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Timothy W. Martin. “This is positive because the increased enforcement is working which means more lives are being saved.”

“We have many of the same goals as IDOT. One of the top priorities within both agencies is keeping the roadways safe for motorists,” said Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent. “I am urging all troopers to continue to take a zero tolerance approach in seat belt enforcement. It’s continues to be proven that buckling up saves lives.”

In addition to primary seatbelt enforcement, another law signed by Governor Blagojevich is contributing to safer roads. The law increased the age of children to be restrained in booster seats from 4 years old to 8 years old. Since the Governor signed the law in 2003, the state has hosted a series of car seat inspection events with 21st Century Insurance. Illinois State Police Officers and members of the Illinois Department of Transportation have inspected over 953 child safety seat installations. In addition, 21st Century Insurance has provided over 1000 child safety seats to Illinois families.


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