Monday, December 23, 2013
 
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IDOT, state police ring in holidays with reminder to 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over'

Federal safety data shows increase in Illinois drunk driving fatalities in 2012

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[December 23, 2013]  CHICAGO The Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police and hundreds of local police and sheriff's departments kicked off an all-out effort to take drunk drivers off Illinois roads this holiday season. The end-of-year campaign comes on the heels of data recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showing an increase in Illinois' drunk driving fatalities during 2012.

"Drunk driving fatalities have dropped overall during recent years in Illinois, but this data shows that drunk driving remains a grave threat," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. "The senseless loss of life brought by people who drive after drinking is unacceptable. This holiday season, we want all drivers to take heed and remember that if you drink and drive, you risk arrest and, at a minimum, the loss of your license."

The 2013 holiday safety campaign features the familiar "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" and "Click It or Ticket" messages and has at its center stepped-up enforcement patrols on driving under the influence and seat belt laws, focusing on the most deadly nighttime hours. Illinois motorists will see this lifesaving effort in their communities and around the state through the first weekend of 2014. Law enforcement will conduct hundreds of roadside safety checks, safety belt enforcement zones and enforcement patrols looking for drunk drivers and seat belt law violators.

"Every motorist should think twice and consider the consequences before drinking and driving this holiday season," said Illinois State Police Lt. Col. Terry Lemming. "Law enforcement across Illinois and beyond will be saturating the roadways and interstates, pushing for zero fatalities, and urge drivers to take responsibility before getting behind the wheel."

To date in 2013, overall Illinois fatalities have been about 2.5 percent higher than during the same period in 2012. The holiday safety campaign seeks to keep fatalities as low as possible through what can be a very dangerous time on Illinois roads. As of Dec. 17, provisional numbers show Illinois motor vehicle fatalities at 950 for 2013 to date, 20 more than the same period last year.

Recent data for 2012 released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that Illinois drunk driving fatalities increased rather significantly from 2011 to 2012. NHTSA estimates show 2012 Illinois drunk driving fatalities  motor vehicle deaths involving at least one driver with a blood alcohol count of 0.08 or higher  totaled 321, compared with 278 in 2011, reflecting a 15.5 percent increase. Nationally, drunk driving fatalities increased 4.6 percent, with 2011 fatalities totaling 9,865 and 2012 fatalities of 10,322.

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Despite the increase in 2012, Illinois drunk driving fatalities have declined significantly since 2007, with federal data showing a drop from 439 Illinois drunk driving fatalities in 2007 to 321 in 2012, a 29.1 percent reduction overall, despite the one-year uptick in 2012.

IDOT data shows 10 people died in 10 fatal crashes on Illinois roads last year during the Christmas holiday period, including crashes that occurred from 6 p.m. Dec. 21 to midnight Dec. 25. Of the 10 individuals killed last year, two lost their lives in crashes involving a driver who had been drinking.

"We want everyone to enjoy their holidays, but we also want our roadways to be safe. So remember this holiday season, 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' and 'Click It or Ticket,'" Schneider said.

The Illinois "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" and "Click It or Ticket" programs are funded with federal safety funds provided through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The programs are administered by IDOT and supported by the Illinois State Police and local law enforcement across the state. For more information about these and other traffic safety programs, go to www.trafficsafety.illinois.gov.

[Text from Illinois Department of Transportation file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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