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Holiday Travel Season Can Mean Danger on Illinois Roads

PHOTO: Illinoisans are encouraged to help keep roadways safe during the holiday season by always designating a sober driver.
PHOTO: Illinoisans are encouraged to help keep roadways safe during the holiday season by always designating a sober driver.
November 25, 2013

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - This week begins one of the most dangerous times of the year on Illinois roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of people killed in accidents involving impaired drivers increases substantially from Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve.

The program coordinator for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Illinois, Dawn Early, encourages people to enjoy the holiday season, but to be safe about it.

"It's your responsibility as a driver to make sure the roads stay safe, not just for yourself but for other people," she said. "The thought of getting behind the wheel of a car and potentially taking a life is heartbreaking, and it's devastating, and it's completely preventable."

Early advises Illinoisans to always designate a non-drinking driver, or arrange for other transportation before the celebration begins, to ensure that everyone arrives home alive. According to IDOT, nine people were killed in motor vehicle accidents last year during the Thanksgiving holiday period, and three of those deaths involved a driver who had been drinking.

MADD's annual Tie One On for Safety Campaign is under way and it calls for drivers to display red ribbons on their cars as visual reminders about planning ahead.

MADD national president Jan Withers says it's a good idea to keep an eye out for others who may be impaired.

"As we're out, we may see someone who appears that they've had too much and they try to drive home after drinking," she said. "So we also have the opportunity to save a life, perhaps their own or someone else's, by urging those people to go home with a designated non-drinking driver."

Dawn Early said some people will have one or two drinks and think they are completely fine to drive, when they are actually above the legal limit. She said it's better to be safe than sorry.

"You don't want to spend your holidays behind bars, you don't want to spend your holidays or the rest of your life realizing you took another person's loved one from them," she warned.

Law enforcement agencies in Illinois will be increasing road patrols during the holiday season, looking for impaired drivers, as well as seat-belt violators and those speeding.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL