CRYSTAL LAKE – Those traveling to and from New Year’s festivities should expect to see more police officers on the roads as more than 250 law enforcement agencies around the state are bolstering efforts to crack down on drunken driving and enforce seat-belt laws.
Federal funding through the Illinois Department of Transportation has allowed hundreds of additional man hours for police departments to enact roadside safety checks, belt enforcement zones and more patrols during New Year’s Eve through the first weekend in January.
New Year’s Eve is a historically dangerous and deadly time for Illinois drivers. IDOT statistics show 38 people have died on Illinois roadways during the holiday in the last five years. Fifteen of those deaths involved at least one driver who had been drinking.
During the same time frame, 2,869 people were injured. Seven people died last year with 664 suffering injuries.
The Illinois Department of Transportation recommends designating a sober driver before celebrations begin. People who have been drinking also are encouraged to call a taxi or sober family member or friend to get home. Drunk drivers also should be promptly reported to local police agencies.
2013 will likely be the third consecutive year with an increase in motor vehicle fatalities, but it also could be the fourth year since 2009 with less than 1,000 deaths on the roads.