May 25, 2004

SIUC police step up enforcement efforts

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Department of Public Safety is urging motorists to drive safely as the Memorial Day weekend approaches.

The department is using a federal safety grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation for a sixth round of traffic law enforcement.

The enforcement period that started Sunday, May 23 runs through Saturday, June 5. The first five rounds were in October, November, December, March and April.

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.

SIUC Police Capt. Todd D. Sigler also wants to remind motorists to watch out for construction work zones. The penalties for speeding in work zones are now a minimum fine of $200 and a mandatory court appearance.

In the last enforcement period of April 5-18, there were six arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, two citations for illegal possession of alcohol, 16 safety belt citations and one arrest on an outstanding warrant.

Promoting campus safety is among the goals of Southern@150, the 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 fiscal 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.