Editorial: Have fun and stay safe this weekend

By on July 2, 2010

During the summer months, alcohol is involved in approximately 60 percent of fatal car accidents that occur between midnight and 6 a.m.

With the Fourth of July weekend approaching, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Police, as well as local law enforcement agencies, will conduct extensive anti-drinking-and-driving activities during the holiday weekend.

In addition to the impact alcohol plays in accidents during late-night hours, the situation is compounded by the research that shows motorists use seatbelts less frequently late at night.

“July 4th is a great time of celebration for our country, but too often, those celebrations can turn deadly because of impaired driving and a failure to buckle up,” said IDOT Secretary Gary Hannig in a statement released this week. “That is why IDOT is working with Illinois law enforcement to remind motorists to designate a sober driver before celebrating. If you don’t and you choose to drink and drive, you will be arrested.”

For those who plan to celebrate on the water, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) said that alcohol is one of the leading factors in fatal boating accidents throughout the nation.

“Our Conservation Police Officers work very hard to make sure Illinois public waters are safe for everyone to enjoy,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “We certainly want people to have a good time on the water, but we have zero tolerance for anyone found operating a boat under the influence.”

IDOT recommends that motorists should always designate a sober driver and should also restrict friends and family members from driving impaired. These two recommendations are just two of several simple steps to avoid a tragic crash or an impaired driving arrest this July 4th.

Other important tips include:
• Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver before going out and give that person your keys.
• If you are impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely.
• Promptly report impaired drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement by pulling over and dialing 911.
• Make sure everyone in your vehicle wears their safety belt. It is your best defense against an impaired driver.

The You Drink & Drive. You Lose crackdown began June 18 and runs through July 4. It is supported by nearly $1 million in federal safety funds being made available by IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety. For more information about impaired driving in Illinois, please visit www.drivesoberillinois.org.