Nov. 16, 2017 - As millions motorists hit the road to celebrate Thanksgiving, Illinois law enforcement will be working around the clock to make sure holiday travelers are buckled up and driving safely.
The goal of this high-visibility effort is to reduce motor vehicle crashes and resulting injuries and fatalities. Correct seat-belt use is the most effective way to protect vehicle occupants. According to IDOT, the statewide seat-belt usage rate is at 93.8 percent.
“Wearing your seat belt is second nature for most,” Oak Park Police Chief Anthony Ambrose said. “We’re looking for the few Illinois motorists who skip this lifesaving step.”
Drivers and passengers can expect a ticket from the Oak Park Police if they are spotted without a seat belt. Stepped-up patrols and seat belt enforcement zones will be seen throughout Oak Park and the state Nov. 17-27.
Last year, 11 people died on Illinois roads during the long holiday weekend from 6 p.m. the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to 5:59 a.m. the following Monday. Many of those fatalities could have been prevented with the click of a seat belt. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s research indicates that proper seat-belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to severe injury by 50 percent.
“Click It or Ticket is a message we’ve used for years to warn motorists of law enforcement’s intention to issue citations to those who don’t buckle up,” Ambrose said. “During Thanksgiving weekend and throughout the year, motorists on Oak Park roads can expect to be ticketed if they are unbelted or driving impaired or distracted.”
Statistics show that nighttime driving comes with an increased risk for injury or death. Evening hours account for a higher percentage of alcohol-related crashes, a higher percentage of fatalities and a lower percentage of occupants wearing seat belts. According to NHTSA, among passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2016 daytime crashes, 41 percent were unrestrained. Nighttime crashes show a significantly higher number of unbelted occupant fatalities at 56 percent.
“Whether you’re traveling across town or across the state this Thanksgiving, wear your seat belt," Ambrose said. "It’s one of the easiest ways to ensure you arrive safely.”
The Click It or Ticket enforcement effort is made possible by federal highway safety funds administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation.