A multi-agency effort is taking place around the state to reduce the number of deaths due to impaired driving for the last holiday weekend of the 2015 year. Participating agencies include the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Transportation and 170 various sheriff's and police departments around the state. This end-of-year campaign follows statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicating that drunk driving deaths in Illinois aren't diminishing.
That's the bad news. The good news is that they don't appear to be increasing, either.
In 2011, NHTSA estimates there were 278 drunk driving deaths in Illinois with at least one driver whose blood alcohol content was .08 or greater. The two years following saw a 15 percent uptick, or 322 fatalities, but 2014 saw a slight decrease, with a total of 317 impaired driving deaths statewide. Across the nation, deaths attributed to drunk driving dropped one percentage point to 9,967 last year from the 10,076 in 2013.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner proclaimed December to be "Impaired Driving Prevention Month," and requested that drivers to do their share to make streets and highways all over Illinois safer by refraining from driving after drinking.
The enforcement campaign focuses on both "Click It or Ticket" and "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" as part of the enhanced enforcement efforts. Throughout the first whole holiday weekend beginning at 6 p.m. on New Year's Eve and ending at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, Illinois drivers will see an increased law enforcement presence conducting seat belt enforcement zones and roadside safety checks.
During the extended Christmas holiday last year, IDOT reported seven fatalities in six collisions. Of the seven, two were determined to have died in accidents involved a driver who drank before driving.
If your New Year's Eve winds up with a trip to the Emergency Room due to an accident with an impaired driver, your first order of business in 2016 might be filing a claim for damages.
Source: Illinois.gov, "IDOT, Law Enforcement: Drunk Driving Ruins the Holidays," Dec. 21, 2015