Wednesday, March 17

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St. Patrick's Day festivities reminder
to motorists    
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[MARCH 17, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- With St. Patrick's Day festivities under way, Illinois motorists are encouraged to be responsible while celebrating this holiday.

The Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police and local law enforcement agencies are once again warning motorists, "If you drink and drive, you lose." This warning comes in reaction to estimates that show alcohol-related fatalities in Illinois continue to rise.

In 2003, overall motor vehicle fatalities rose to 1,444 from 1,420 in 2002. With the overall increase in fatalities, IDOT estimates a relative increase in alcohol-related traffic deaths. This comes on the heels of data showing that 648 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 2002, compared with 623 in 2001.

"St. Patrick's Day is a traditional time for celebration. We are reminding motorists that under no circumstance should that celebration include driving impaired," said Timothy Martin, secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation. "The message is simple this St. Patrick's Day in Illinois: If you drink and drive, you lose.

"We remain committed to reversing the false perception that alcohol and other impaired driving are problems of the past," Martin continued. "Clearly, data shows impaired driving remains a very real and deadly problem in Illinois."

During the last 10 years in Illinois, 27 people have lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes on St. Patrick's Day. Fifteen people, or 56 percent, of the 27 were killed in crashes that involved alcohol. In 2001, 2002 and 2003 alone, 14 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes on St. Patrick's Day. Ten of those fatalities, or 71 percent, were alcohol-related.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 46 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in Illinois in 2002 involved alcohol.

 

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"The recent increase in alcohol-related fatalities in Illinois is simply unacceptable," said Larry Trent, director of the Illinois State Police. "As part of this St. Patrick's Day enforcement activity, the Illinois State Police in conjunction with local law enforcement will be conducting roadside safety checks and saturation patrols to help ensure Illinois roads remain clear of impaired drivers."

As always, law enforcement will be continuing their focus on ticketing unbelted motorists. It is a fact that one of the best defenses motorists have against a drunk driver is to buckle up.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 46 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in Illinois in 2002 involved alcohol.

"The recent increase in alcohol-related fatalities in Illinois is simply unacceptable," said Larry Trent, director of the Illinois State Police. "As part of this St. Patrick's Day enforcement activity, the Illinois State Police in conjunction with local law enforcement will be conducting roadside safety checks and saturation patrols to help ensure Illinois roads remain clear of impaired drivers."

As always, law enforcement will be continuing their focus on ticketing unbelted motorists. It is a fact that one of the best defenses motorists have against a drunk driver is to buckle up.

[Illinois Department of Transportation news release]

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