Several Northwest suburban police departments will be putting extra officers on duty through the Thanksgiving holiday as part of a crackdown funded by federal grant money distributed by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Among the participating departments are Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Buffalo Grove and Wheeling. Statewide, more than 200 departments are participating. Most towns are beginning the stepped-up enforcement Monday and it will continue through Dec. 1.
"Whether you're going across town or across the state this Thanksgiving, please make sure everyone in the car is wearing their seat belt," said Buffalo Grove Sgt. Mike Rodriguez. "Our officers are prepared to ticket anyone who is not wearing a seat belt and arrest those choosing to drive impaired."
Enforcement efforts will concentrate on the nighttime hours targeting impaired drivers and seat belt law violators to underscore the highly disproportionate number of traffic deaths involving alcohol and unbelted motorists, Wheeling police said in a news release.
Besides special patrols, Arlington Heights police will set up a roadside safety checkpoint the night of Friday, Nov. 22, on Arlington Heights Road south of Algonquin Road where motorists will face traffic stops for inspection.
Officers working the campaigns will be attempting to identify and cite motorists driving without using their safety belts, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or are committing other traffic-related offenses, Wheeling police said. Among the goals of the campaign is to remind everyone to drive carefully and defensively, avoid driving impaired and to buckle up.
The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel times of the year. During the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, nine people lost their lives in motor vehicle traffic crashes in Illinois with three of those deaths involving alcohol. More than 700 motorists were injured, the Illinois Department of Transportation reported.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, research shows that when lap and shoulder belts are used properly, the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent. In 2011 alone, seat belts saved almost 12,000 lives nationwide.