Illinois State Police and the Illinois Department of Transportation are partnering up to cut down on drunk driving over the Thanksgiving holiday break.
The upcoming five day stretch is one of the most dangerous times on Illinois roads. The night before Thanksgiving is usually the night of the year with the most DUI arrests, so cops are stepping up their game. When you add in the increased traffic on the road for holiday travel, and the prospect of inclement weather, it’s no surprise that the roads can be a dangerous place to be this weekend.
Extra DUI Patrols Begin Today
According to IDOT and the state police, extra DUI and seat belt patrols will take place today and run through Sunday. Authorities hope the increased push to get dangerous drivers off the road can push fatality numbers back towards last year’s numbers. Although traffic deaths have decreased over the past few years, 881 people have lost their lives on Illinois roads this year, up five percent from this time last year.
Jared Thornley, Director of IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety, said the holiday season should be about spending time with friends and family, but drinking and driving can have tragic consequences.
“Thanksgiving should be a time to appreciate family and togetherness, yet far too many preventable injuries and fatalities continue to occur,” said Thornley. “Please do your part as we enter into the holiday season by wearing your seat belt and making accommodations to get home safely if you do plan to be out celebrating.”
Too many people learned that lesson the hard way last year. According to IDOT statistics, 15 people died during last year’s five-day Thanksgiving stretch, and 840 others were injured. Alcohol was a contributing factor in five of the 15 deaths.
Illinois State Police also believe they can reduce the number of fatal accidents by ensuring motorists buckle up when they are in the car. So in addition to the extra DUI patrols, police will also be conducting a crackdown on seat belt violations. Hundreds of extra enforcement zones have been added in numerous counties throughout Illinois for the upcoming crackdown.
Illinois State Police Colonel Tad Williams said DUIs and seat belt violations will be their top concerns this weekend, but they’ll also be watching for speeders and distracted drivers to make this the safest Thanksgiving weekend in years.
“Public safety is our number one goal during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend,” said Williams. “ISP troopers will be patrolling Illinois roadways watching for Fatal-4 violations: DUI, Speeding, Seat Belts and Distracted Driving. Drive sober, or get pulled over. Reduce speed, buckle up and remember a text can wait.”