"I hope we can stand here next year and
say to you that there were no alcohol-related crash fatalities over
the 2004 Thanksgiving holiday weekend," Department of Transportation
Secretary Timothy W. Martin said. "The sad reality is, some people
just don't get it. They continue to drive drunk, and people die as a
result. I am excited about this new opportunity the governor has
presented us with, and I think, working together as one, we will
make a difference."
statement supporting the multi-agency effort, Gov. Blagojevich said:
"State government has a number of programs working independently to
combat alcohol abuse issues. The Governor's Alcohol Abuse Task Force
will bring these agencies together, with industry and interest
groups, to better coordinate our efforts. By bringing all of our
programs under the guidance of the task force, we're taking a team
approach, attacking the problems together, rather than separately as
The Governor's Alcohol Abuse Task
Force kicked off its efforts Tuesday with a simulated car crash at
the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. The demonstration included
a wrecked car placed on the plaza and seven actors from the
Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council portraying fatalities from
an alcohol-related crash. Last year over the Thanksgiving holiday
weekend, seven people were killed on Illinois roads in six fatal
Martin, Department of Human Services
Secretary Carol Adams and Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent
form the nucleus of the task force and will begin assembling other
"We want to reach out to advocacy
groups and industry and ask them to partner with us in reducing the
high social and economic costs of alcohol abuse," Adams said.
"Abusing alcohol tears families apart, it shatters lives, and yet it
is entirely preventable. We all have a stake in fighting alcohol
abuse, whether it's in our homes, communities or across the state."
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people think of alcohol abuse, they tend to think of alcoholism and
drinking and driving, but abuse takes many more forms:
- Studies indicate that up to 40
percent of all residential fire victims are impaired by alcohol.
- According to the National
Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 1,400 college students
ages 18-24 die each year from alcohol-related injuries.
- According to the Bureau of
Justice Statistics, about 40 percent of all crimes are committed
under the influence of alcohol.
- Alcohol is a factor in as many as
40 percent of all domestic violence incidents in Illinois.
- Youth who drink before the age of
15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than
those who begin drinking at age 21.
- About three in 10 of all
Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some
time in their lives.
On Tuesday members of the Governor's
Alcohol Abuse Task Force also challenged students at colleges and
universities throughout Illinois to join in the effort to combat
alcohol abuse. College and university students will be asked to
produce a 30-second public service announcement dealing with
impaired driving. Entries are to be submitted by May 1, 2005, and
the task force will judge the entries, with the winning submission
used next year in a broadcast campaign. The winning entry will be
recognized by having their school logo placed in the public service
announcement during its broadcast.
"The choices we make in life may
have far-reaching consequences for our future, our families and
friends, as well as the innocent bystanders who are often placed in
dangerous and sometimes fatal situations," said Trent. "The goal of
this partnership is to educate the public of the dangers involved
with alcohol abuse and the effects it can have on others."
Over the next several weeks Martin,
Trent and Adams will identify the other members of the Governor's
Alcohol Abuse Task Force, inviting representatives from interest
groups, industry and other state agencies to join.
[News release from the