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Law enforcement reminds drivers to be safe over holiday

Published: Monday, June 30, 2014 8:28 p.m. CDT
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(Heidi Litchfield – hlitchfield@shawmedia.com)
The vehicle 24-year-old Meagan Ahlstrom died in when a drunk driver crashed into her car near the Grundy County Fairgrounds serves as a reminder as residents enter Grundy County Fairgrounds this week during the annual fair, to not drink and drive.

GRUNDY COUNTY – The Fourth of July is a time for barbecues and family get-togethers – and unfortunately, increased drunken driving arrests and accidents.

“Too many people die each year due to those who choose to drive after drinking, so our deputies will be out in full force this Independence Day showing zero tolerance for drunk drivers and seat belt law violations,” Grundy County Sheriff Kevin Callahan said in news release.

According to the Secretary of State website, www.cyberdriveillinois.com, July 4 in 2011 tied with Memorial Day for the highest number of fatalities on a holiday in Illinois that year, with 13 occurring on each of the holidays. The highest amount of alcohol-related fatalities in 2011 were on the Fourth of July, when nine of the 13 fatalities were alcohol related.

“Holidays have increased traffic so the likelihood of more crashes are there,” Morris Police Chief Brent Dite said.

The sheriff’s office will have extra deputies on patrol throughout the week for July Fourth traffic enforcement, focusing on both drunken and unbuckled drivers.

The crackdown by the sheriff’s department is part of the statewide Independence Day “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and Click It or Ticket effort,” according to the sheriff’s release.

Dite said Morris police will have an emphasis on traffic offenses looking for speeding, those driving under the influence and seat belt violations.

Minooka Police Chief Justin Meyer said his department will keep the same staffing level over the holiday and will continue strong efforts toward traffic safety, with the intention of reducing crashes.

Callahan said the intensified enforcement effort will focus on late-night hours as statistics show a disproportionate number of traffic deaths occur late at night and involve a drunk driver and/or unbuckled motorist.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics showed that in 2009, two-thirds of all fatal crashes in the United States between midnight and 3 a.m. were impaired drivers.

Dite said that local statistics show similar trends with more DUIs and fatal crashes within those early morning hours.

The law enforcement crackdown at the Grundy County Sheriff’s office is funded by federal traffic safety funds through the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety, according to the sheriff’s release.

BE SAFE

Tips to be safe and avoid being stopped by police:

• Designate a sober driver and don’t let friends or family members drive drunk.

• Plan ahead – designate a sober driver before going out and give that person your keys. If you are drunk, call a family member, call a sober friend, or call a taxi to get you home safely.

• Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to police by pulling over and dialing 911.

• Make sure everyone in your vehicle wears their seat belt. It is your best defense against a drunk driver.

Source: Grundy County Sheriff’s Department

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