|SPRINGFIELD– Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that Illinois motorists are buckling up at an all time record rate, with 90.1 percent of drivers and front seat passengers wearing seat belts and helping prevent traffic accidents. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) reported that a statewide survey in June found safety belt usage increased by two percentage points over the previous year and is up by 14 percentage points since Gov. Blagojevich signed the primary safety belt enforcement law in 2003. |
“Seat belts save lives. I signed a law four years ago that gave police the authority to stop drivers for not wearing seat belts. Working with law enforcement and education, more people in Illinois are buckling up and helping prevent deadly accidents,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
Governor Blagojevich signed the primary enforcement law in July of 2003. Prior to that, police could not pull a driver over based solely on a seatbelt violation. Since 2003 there has been an increase in safety belt use of 14 percent; in June 2003 Illinois’ safety belt compliance was 76%, it climbed to 83% in June of 2004 and 86% in June of 2005 and 88 percent in June of 2006. The annual survey by IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety was based on the observation of 135,722 front seat occupants on roadways throughout the state in June.
Only 10 states in the country attained 90 percent safety belt use last year.
In addition to more people wearing their seatbelts, fatalities on Illinois roads have steadily declined since the Governor signed the primary safety belt enforcement law. In 2003 there were 1,454 total fatalities, in 2004 there were 1,355 and in 2005 there were 1,363. There were 109 fewer fatalities in 2006 than in 2005, down to 1,254, the lowest number of fatalities since 1924. The decline has continued in 2007. Through June 30th of this year there were 589 people killed 2 on Illinois highways, 18 fewer than a year ago, and 82 fewer than the same period in 2003, before the primary seat belt law was in place.
Illinois has also received an additional $29.7 million in safety funding from the federal government because of the primary safety belt enforcement law. That funding is used for education and enforcement, as well as for additional safety engineering.
“Since the Governor signed the primary safety belt enforcement law, more and more drivers are buckling up and traffic fatalities have steadily declined,” said IDOT Acting Secretary Milt Sees. “But ten percent of the population is still risking their lives when they are driving without a safety belt. IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety is going to continue to work with law enforcement and traffic safety advocates to push for zero tolerance toward drivers who fail to heed our warnings: ‘Click It or Ticket!’”
“It is very encouraging that we have reached the 90 percent compliance mark, but the Illinois State Police will remain diligent in our enforcement efforts,” said Illinois State Police Director Larry G. Trent. “The numbers speak for themselves in proving safety belts save lives. If motorists fail to wear a safety belt, they will receive a ticket.”
The Governor has made improving traffic safety issues a priority for his administration and has actively supported legislation to reduce fatalities on our state’s highways. Previous traffic safety measures signed by the Governor include:
- A law that doubles the amount of time a teen must have behind the wheel before receiving their license;
- A law that bans teen drivers from carrying more than one passenger for the first six months after receiving his or her license;
- A law that bans cell phone use by drivers under 18;
- Requiring drivers under 18 to make sure that their teen passengers are buckled properly in the front and back seats;
- A law that rose the age at which children must be in booster seats from 4 to 8.
- Increased penalties for drivers over the age of 21 who transport a child under the age of 16 while impaired;
- Chemical testing required for those arrested for hit-and-run;
- Harsher sentencing for causing a death while driving impaired; and
- Tougher penalties for driving on a DUI-revoked license.
For more information about IDOT safety programs, go to http://www.buckleupillinois.org.