State Police keep holiday traffic in check

By Gus Bode

highways during the holiday season, and preliminary police records confirm that.

Illinois State Police are compiling their traffic statistics for the Thanksgiving holiday season, and early reports show 2007 on track to break the record books.

2006 saw a record low in the amount of traffic fatalities in Illinois, with 20 of those occurring over the Thanksgiving weekend. This year, preliminary reports show only three fatalities occurred over the same time period.


Throughout the holiday weekend, Illinois State Police handed out 11,747 total citations, with 671 of those occurring in District 13, which covers Randolph, Washington, Jefferson, Perry, Franklin, Jackson and Williamson counties.

Other District 13 statistics include 253 speeding tickets, 12 alcohol related citations, 241 seatbelt violations, 14 child restraint violations, 52 crashes and two DUI arrests, with no fatalities.

According to Master Sergeant Brian Ley of the Illinois State Police, state roadways were saturated with police from Wednesday through Sunday as part of Illinois’ “Stay Alive on the I’s” program. During this time, a trooper is placed every 10 miles along interstate highways in Illinois.

“Our primary goal is to enforce the fatal five: speeding, safety belts, DUI’s, following too closely and improper lane usage,” Ley said.

Police also were aggressively enforcing Scott’s Law, named after a Chicago firefighter who was struck while pulling over a motorist in 2003, which mandates vehicles to slow down and change lanes while passing a state vehicle parked on a shoulder with flashing lights.

Keisha Harris, a senior from Chicago studying finance, made the round trip to and from Chicago with a friend. Harris said her return trip from Chicago on Sunday was one filled with accidents and traffic snarls.

“On the ride back it was pretty hectic because of traffic,” Harris said. “Because of the weather there was a bunch of accidents on the road.”


Harris said she witnessed accidents – mostly rear-end collisions – along the way, which set her trip back almost two hours.

“We saw a lot of police and fire trucks,” Harris said.

Since 2003, the Primary Safety Belt Enforcement law has also given police the power to pull over a motorist for a seatbelt violation. Prior to that law, police needed a secondary reason to pull someone over.

Ley said since the signing of that law, seatbelt citations have gone up, but fatalities have dropped to an 80-year low.

“Especially in District 13, our efforts were successful in creating a safe passage for motorists,” Ley said. “We consider it a success anytime a district doesn’t have any fatalities.”

David Lopez can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 273 or [email protected].