Forest Park Police will step up traffic enforcement from now through Nov. 23 to arrest drunk drivers and ticket anyone not wearing a seat belt.
The crackdown is part of a federally funded effort to reduce traffic accidents and deaths. The program is sponsored by the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety and will help pay for off-duty officers to augment on-duty patrols.
One officer will be assigned to look for drunk drivers, and it's critical on holiday weekends, Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas said.
"We want people to celebrate responsibly, and those who are not should get off the street to make the roadways safer," Aftanas said.
Seatbelt enforcement is just as important, he said, and he noted that drivers in Illinois can be pulled over just for not wearing a seatbelt. Backseat passengers also must wear their seatbelts.
IDOT reports the state has a 93.6 percent daytime safety belt usage rate, but say far too many drivers and passengers still do not buckle up. Add in driving under the influence and the likelihood of a fatal accident increases. During the 2011 Thanksgiving holiday period, motor vehicle crashes in Illinois claimed eight lives and injured more than 800 individuals. Four of the deaths involved a drinking driver.
There are a few tips that partiers can follow to stay safe, Aftanas said. One is selecting a designated driver before even leaving for a dinner or party or hailing a cab or using public transportation.
- Promptly reporting drunk drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement by pulling over and dialing 911.
- Making sure everyone in your vehicle wears a seat belt.