ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Illinois State Police announced on Wednesday that they, ISP along with the Illinois Department of Transportation and more than 200 local law enforcement agencies, are cracking down on seat belt law violators and impaired drivers ahead of the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The enforcement is part of the “Click It or Ticket” campaign as the summer traveling season approaches.

“Throughout Illinois, Memorial Day means the start of summer road trips and an increase in traffic,” said IDOT Director of Highways Project Implementation Steve Travia. “With additional vehicles on the roads, it’s more important than ever to take standard safety precautions. Make seat belt use an automatic habit. It’s not just the safe thing to do – it’s the law.”

During the Memorial Day campaign, which runs through May 30, officials said police will step up traffic safety efforts, reminding drivers and their passengers of the importance of buckling up and the potential consequences of not wearing a seat belt.

ISP said the increase in summer holiday traffic almost always correlates with an increase in fatalities. They said during last year’s Memorial Day weekend, from the period of 6 p.m. Friday to 11:59 p.m. Monday, there were 14 crashes in Illinois resulting in 15 fatalities.

Preliminary IDOT data shows that between 2020 and 2022, there were 2,475 traffic fatalities in Illinois, officials said. Of those, they said a total of 979 were properly buckled in a seat belt or child safety seat, meaning more than 60% of those who died in crashes during this timeframe were not buckled properly.

More information about the “Click It or Ticket” campaign can be found online.

Prior to the Memorial Day holiday weekend, ISP announced the results of the May Distracted Driving Enforcement Program (DDEP) patrols held in Champaign County for their Memorial Day Details.

ISP Troop 7 Commander, Acting Captain Brian Dickmann said the DDEP program provided extra patrol coverage for ISP officers to focus on saving lives and reducing serious crashes by enforcing distracted driving laws. The results include:

  • 21 hand-held phone/device citations
  • 0 texting while driving citations
  • 0 other types of distracted driving citations
  • 21 total distracted driving citations
  • 0 total distracted driving written warnings
  • 27 total of all citations
  • 11 total of all written warnings

Captain Dickmann announced the OREP results in Coles and Douglas counties in May. State Police said these OREPs provided extra patrol coverage so officers could focus on saving lives by making sure all vehicle occupants were buckled up.

Results in Coles and Douglas counties include:

  • 32 safety belt citations
  • 1 child restraint citation
  • 43 total citations
  • 5 total written warnings

Captain Dickmann also announced the OREP results in Macon and Vermilion counties in May. The results include:

  • 27 safety belt citations
  • 0 child restraint citations
  • 34 total citations
  • 7 total written warnings

State police said drivers know safety belts save lives, but some ignore their safety and that of their families by neglecting to use safety belts and child restraint devices. They said these patrols reinforce the occupant protection message by focusing on those who ignore the law.

ISP said lives can be saved if people simply “buckle up!”

Captain Dickmann also announced the results of ACE patrols in Macon and Vermilion counties in May. State police said these ACE patrols allowed officers to focus on preventing, detecting, and taking enforcement action in response to violations associated with impaired driving and illegal transportation or consumption of alcohol or drugs.

The May ACE results include:

  • 0 DUI citations
  • 0 other alcohol/drug citations
  • 0 occupant restraint offenses
  • 1 registration offense
  • 1 driver’s license offense
  • 3 insurance violations
  • 35 total citations and arrests
  • 6 total written warnings

State police reported that alcohol and drug impairment are factors in more than 30% of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in Illinois. They said there is one alcohol-related traffic fatality every 53 minutes in the country.

The ACE program allows officers to work even harder at removing dangerous DUI offenders from the road, ISP officials reported.

Both OREP and ACE are funded through the Illinois Department of Transportation.