The state of Illinois is on a pace to lose less than 1000 lives to traffic accidents this year, and the Oak Park police department has joined with a state wide effort to help assure that happens.

Last Thursday the Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Police kicked off Operation Save 100, which intends to assure Illinois to have at least 100 less fatalities on its roadways this year than last year, which saw 1043 deaths. If state and local officials reach that goal, it will set a record for the fewest motor vehicle fatalities since 1921.

“The Oak Park Police Department is committed to preventing motor vehicle death and injuries resulting from traffic crashes and also to enhancing traffic safety through strict enforcement of seat belt and all DUI related laws,” said Commander Keenan Williams of the Community Policing division. Williams called aggressive driving “a problem in Oak Park and in the Chicago metropolitan area as a whole,” and said police here will be joining with their state and City of Chicago counterparts to sending a message and make an impact during the holidays.

IDOT is requesting that participating departments step up enforcement against drunk driving, zero tolerance laws for under aged drinking and driving, and safety belt and child passenger safety citations written between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. The operation runs from 13 November through the end of 2009. 

Not only will increased safety save lives, it will save money- a lot of money. The average economic cost per motor vehicle fatality is more than $1 million, according to the National Safety Council statistics. That means the 100 lives that will hopefully be sparred by the program will also save $100 million.

Two people have already been charged with more serious crimes after being pulled over for traffic infractions on Nov. 22.

Brian K. Lewis, 50, of 4432 W. Gladys, was pulled over on the 1200 block of N. Austin Sunday morning, for alleged improper lane usage. Lewis was charged with DUI, having no valid license and no insurance.

Alonzo Donaldson, of Hillside was allegedly found to be driving on a revoked license after being pulled over for an alleged traffic violation on the 6500 block of Roosevelt later Sunday.

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