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December 11, 2007


Abby Ottenhoff 312.814.3158
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Gov. Blagojevich announces crackdown on impaired drivers, proclaims December as Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month

Governor urges Illinois communities to send message that designating a driver saves lives

SPRINGFIELD– As we approach the holiday season, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that State law enforcement agencies will be cracking down on impaired drivers.  The Governor proclaimed December as Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention month and is letting drivers know that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois State Police (ISP), the Illinois Tollway and local police agencies across the state will be mounting roadside safety checks and saturation patrols to keep our roads and highways safe.

The Governor also is calling on all Illinois cities, towns and villages to join the State in reminding the public about the dangers posed by drunk and drugged drivers during the holidays.

“The holidays are a special time to celebrate with family and friends. But we must also remember to be safe and responsible. Designating a driver can help prevent accidents and save lives,” said the Governor. “But we’re also making sure our roads are safe during this holiday season, by having State Police, IDOT and the Tollway work together to detect impaired drivers, get them off the road and prevent them from putting their lives and the lives of others in danger.”

The roadside safety checks and saturation patrols are funded through grants from IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety, as part of the national “You Drink and Drive. You Lose” campaign.

“This holiday season, all of law enforcement will be mindful of the threat impaired drivers place on every family,” said Illinois State Police Director Larry G. Trent. “The Illinois State Police will team up with more than 170 law enforcement agencies to crack down on those who become impaired and then choose to get behind the wheel.  The majority of traffic fatalities during last year’s Christmas and New Year’s weekends were alcohol related.  In an effort to change that statistic, the ISP will be conducting special patrols targeting impaired drivers. We are hopeful drivers will make the responsible decision not to drive while impaired so law enforcement officers don’t have to make that decision for them.” 

Last year in December in Illinois, there were 32 alcohol related fatalities. During the 2006 Christmas holiday weekend alone, 8 out of the 10 motor vehicle crash fatalities that occurred involved at least one driver with alcohol in his or her system.   During the 2006 New Year’s weekend, six out of 13 fatalities were alcohol related.

Overall, 2006 was the safest year on Illinois roads since 1924, with a total of 1,254, 109 fatalities fewer than the year before. This year, as of Dec. 10, the state is on pace to set a new low since 1924, with 24 fewer fatalities through the same date last year.

 “Under the leadership of Gov. Blagojevich, Illinois saw a historic reduction in the number of traffic fatalities last year,” said IDOT Secretary Milton R. Sees. “But the tragic fact remains that 47 percent of those fatalities were alcohol related and thus may have been preventable. IDOT is proud to support the efforts of the Illinois State Police and local police in combating impaired drivers. The message is simple: You Drink and Drive. You Lose.

State officials recommend the following steps keep drunk drivers off the roads and to ensure a safe and festive holiday for everyone:

    • Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
    • Before drinking, please designate a sober driver and give that person your keys;
    • If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to ensure you get home safely;
    • If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, call 911 or contact local law enforcement;
    • And remember, if you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

Following is the text of the Governor’s Proclamation:

WHEREAS, driving under the influence of mind-altering drugs is a grave problem that destroys individual lives, rips families apart, and strains local communities; and

WHEREAS, motor vehicle crashes killed 1,254 people in Illinois during 2006; and

WHEREAS, 47 percent of those deaths were in alcohol-related crashes; and

WHEREAS, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs also causes staggering economic costs.  Billions of dollars are spent for property damage and healthcare every year as a direct result of alcohol- and drug-related automobile accidents; and

WHEREAS, today, the terrible consequences of driving under the influence of mind-altering drugs are widely acknowledged, and the government and private sector are actively engaged in campaigns to address the problem; and

WHEREAS, the December holiday season is a traditionally on of the deadliest times of the year for impaired driving.  Consequently, communities and organizations all across our state and throughout the country are joined with the “You Drink & Drive. You Lose.” and other campaigns that foster public awareness of the dangers of impaired driving; and

WHEREAS, the State of Illinois is proud to partner with cities, towns and villages, and traffic safety organizations in an effort to make our roads and streets safer;

 THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim December 2007 as Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month in Illinois, and urge all citizens to drive responsibly so that no one else becomes a victim of drunk or drugged driving.

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