Illinois Drivers Face Late Night Seat Belt Crackdown
Study Shows Late Night Hours Deadliest For Drivers
Illinois state troopers and local law enforcement will be cracking down on safety belt scofflaws in advance of Memorial Day by singling out late night drivers.
The state’s annual Click It Or Ticket campaign officially kicked into gear last Thursday and continues through the Memorial Day holiday–a traditionally extra busy time on Illinois highways. But this year, law enforcement is going to concentrate on enforcing seat belt compliance during night time hours with safety belt checkpoints.
The reason is, a recent Illinois Department of Transportation study shows most fatal car crashes not only occurred from midnight to 3 AM, but this high incidence of death is most likely because those same hours show the lowest compliance rate for buckling up.
IDOT crash data shows, of the 632 people killed in car crashes in 2009, 106 drivers or occupants were killed between the hours of 12 AM and 3 AM, far and away the deadliest three hours of the day. The number killed in this three hour period is nearly 17% of all fatalities last year.
Of those 106 fatalities, according to IDOT figures, just two of every ten of those vehicle occupants were buckled up when they were killed. It’s IDOT’s contention that more of these motorists would have been alive if they had just buckled their seat belt.
But, according to Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig, the vast majority of drivers and their occupants are using their seat belts. Yet, IDOT is still shooting for every greater compliance.
“Even with 9 out of 10 motorists buckling up in Illinois, far too many people are not buckling up at night, and far too many are dying as a result,” said Hannig.
State and local law enforcement, utilizing federal funds, will be conducting “safety belt enforcement zones” over these next few weeks, according to Illinois State Police Acting Director Jonathon E. Monken
During a safety belt enforcement zone, a contingent of police officers will ticket motorists observed not wearing safety belts. In most cases, this enforcement is conducted at intersections when the traffic light turns red.
“During the next three weeks, troopers, along with local law enforcement officers, will conduct numerous nighttime safety belt enforcement zones throughout the state to promote safety belt use with the hope of reducing the number of fatalities occurring during the late night hours,” explained Monken.
Fines for safety belt violations are $55, or $75 for allowing children under eight years old to ride unrestrained.