COURTESY OF VILLAGE OF OAK PARK
Nov. 15, 2013 - Oak Park Police have stepped up traffic enforcement through the weekend following Thanksgiving, with efforts focused on reducing accidents by arresting drunk drivers and ticketing anyone in a vehicle who is not wearing a seat belt.
The Oak Park crackdown is part of a federally funded effort through the Illinois Department of Transportation's Division of Traffic Safety that will help pay for off-duty officers to augment on-duty patrols. The enforcement effort runs concurrently with a media campaign that reminds motorists to Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and Click It or Ticket.
"Fastening a seat belt takes only a second or two, and costs you nothing. Not wearing a seat belt, especially during this Thanksgiving period, will cost you a ticket at the very least, or even worse, your life," said Oak Park Deputy Police Chief Anthony Ambrose. "The same applies when you have been drinking and choose to drive. We want all drivers and passengers to click it or expect a ticket, day and night. And if you don't drive sober, expect to get pulled over."
IDOT has reported that the vast majority of Illinois drivers use seatbelts during the daytime, but that far too many drivers and passengers still do not buckle up – especially at night. Add in driving under the influence and the likelihood of a fatal accident increases. During the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday period, motor vehicle crashes in Illinois claimed nine lives and injured more than 700 individuals. Three of the deaths involved a drinking driver.
"I urge everyone driving on Oak Park and Illinois roadways this holiday season to drive carefully, do not drive impaired and, most importantly, buckle up each and every trip, night or day," Ambrose said. "Remember, the best defense against an impaired or distracted driver is a safety belt."
Designating a sober driver and not letting friends or family members drive drunk are the two most effective ways to avoid a crash or arrest for driving under the influence, police say.
Other tips include the following:
- Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver before going out and give that person the keys.
- If you are drunk, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely.
- Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement by pulling over and dialing 911.
- Make sure everyone in your vehicle wears a seat belt. It is the best defense against a drunk driver.