AAA: Expect More Traffic This Thanksgiving
IDOT Suspends Road Work, State Police Prepare DUI Crackdown For Holiday Weekend
The AAA Motor Club says 2 million Illinois motorists will be hitting the road for the holiday, telling drivers to expect a 3.8% increase in passenger car traffic over Thanksgiving 2010–despite gas prices which are on average, fifty cents higher than last year.
“Driving AAA’s projected increase in the number of Thanksgiving travelers is pent-up demand from Americans who may have foregone holiday travel the last three years,” said Brad Roeber, regional president of AAA Chicago. “This is the first significant increase in any holiday travel this year. Memorial Day travel was statistically flat while Independence Day and Labor Day travel experienced decreases of 2.5 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.”
Despite this uptick in travel this Thanksgiving, holiday travel is still below historical averages and well below pre-recession levels.
IDOT Suspending Road Construction, Opening Up Lanes
While holiday traffic may be up, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced Tuesday the suspension of most road construction projects over the holiday weekend, to help ease holiday travel traffic congestion and improve traffic flow.
“With heavy traffic expected during Thanksgiving weekend, IDOT is providing a list of lane closures in advance to help motorists plan their trips,” said acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider. “With less construction activity this weekend, traffic congestion can be reduced, and safety and traffic flow will continue to improve.”
Starting at 3 PM Wednesday (November 23) IDOT is suspending all non-emergency road work and will be opening up all lanes where possible through midnight Sunday (November 27th).
There will be a few construction zones with lane closures still in place. IDOT is advising all drivers to slow down and obey all posted speed limits as work zone speed limits are still in effect even if no construction workers are on site.
Expect Large Traffic Enforcement Push By State, Local Police
With Thanksgiving being historically one of the most dangerous holidays for drivers in terms of fatal crashes, the Illinois State Police are asking motorists to show extra caution this weekend and of course, avoid driving drunk.
During last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, 15 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in Illinois, with nine deaths involving a driver who had been drinking, while 743 people were injured.
Like most big travel holidays, State Troopers and local police will have an increased presence on Illinois roads and highways this holiday weekend.
“Although the number of crashes involving impaired drivers has significantly decreased over the years, a single life lost to drunk driving is one life too many and we know that alcohol is a factor during the Thanksgiving holiday period,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau. “Troopers and local police officers will saturate the roads and interstates with targeted patrols to enforce ISP’s Fatal Four mission – with a special emphasis on impaired driving,” Grau stressed.
Officers will be patrolling interstates, conducting road side safety checks and will be cracking down on speeding, seat belt laws, distracted driving (texting while driving) and with a special emphasis on catching drivers who may have had a few too many.
IDOT estimates law enforcement will conduct over 1,700 safety belt enforcement zones and 40 roadside safety checks over the course of the weekend, with a special emphasis on nighttime checks.
“Our number one goal is to reduce the number of fatalities on Illinois roads and highways and motorists should think twice about driving responsibly before getting behind the wheel,” said Colonel Mark Piccoli, of the Illinois State Police Division of Operations. “Sobriety checkpoints will be enforced and DUI violators risk arrests and severe penalties.”
Black Friday Crackdown On Handicapped Parking Scofflaws
Shoppers looking to score a great deal at the mall on Friday, should make sure they don’t try to park illegally in a handicapped space or they might be spending even more money than they had originally planned.
Secretary of State Police will be out at Woodfield Mall, as well as malls in Rockford and Springfield, on Black Friday enforcing the provisions of the Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities.
The fine for illegally using a disabled parking placard or handicap license plates without the person authorized to use those plates or placards present is as much as $500. The cited driver could also face a 30 day suspension of their drivers license.
In addition, the maximum fine for parking in a designated handicap parking space without a placard or handicap plate is $350.
“Our mission is not to give tickets, but to ensure the parking spaces are available to those who need them,” White said. “My message today is simple-if you don’t belong there-don’t park there.”