March 12, 2004

SIUC police to beef-up traffic safety enforcement

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - With warmer weather on the horizon, Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Department of Public Safety is once again urging motorists to drive safely.

Beginning this weekend, the department is using a federal safety grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation for a fourth round of traffic law enforcement.

The enforcement period runs Saturday, March 13, through Friday, March 26. The first three rounds were in October, November and December.

Last fall, the University received a $16,482 grant through the transportation department's Mini-Grant Alcohol Enforcement Program, or MAP grant. This is the second year the University has received the funds.

The grant allows SIUC police to conduct traffic activities for a specific number of hours during a two-week period. The department expects to conduct approximately 336 hours of enforcement during eight periods between Oct. 1, 2003 and Sept. 30, 2004.

Seven of the enforcement periods are determined by IDOT. SIUC police selected this enforcement period for several reasons, said SIUC Police Capt. Todd D. Sigler. This enforcement period begins right after spring break when traffic increases and the weather has improved, he said.

In the last enforcement period of Dec. 22-Jan. 3, there were six arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, 14 citations for speeding and three safety belt citations. There was also one arrest on an outstanding warrant, and one arrest for a drug violation.

Promoting campus safety is among the goals of Southern@150, a long-range development plan that guides the University to its 150th anniversary in 2019.

SIUC is one of 22 police agencies - and only two universities - in the state to receive the federal safety funds this year.

The grant focuses on impaired drivers, but officers address seat belt use and other traffic safety issues. Among 18- to 34-year-old motorists killed in car crashes last year in Illinois, nearly eight out of 10 were not wearing seat belts, according to IDOT statistics.