June 23, 2004

Police step up traffic law enforcement efforts

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Summer is officially here, and Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Department of Public Safety is urging motorists to drive safely as another holiday comes into view.

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

The enforcement period began Monday, June 21, and runs through Sunday, July 4. The first six rounds were in October, November, December, March, April and May.

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 received the funds.

In the last enforcement period of May 24-June 6, there were three arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, one zero-tolerance citation for an underage motorist with alcohol, six speeding tickets and three safety belt citations.

SIUC police Capt. Todd D. Sigler noted the number of DUI tickets issued during the two-week period decreased from the six issued in the April enforcement effort.

"The number of traffic stops remained the same, but the alcohol-related contacts dropped from the previous enforcement, so that is encouraging," Sigler said. He also emphasized that alcohol-related rules for motorists also apply to those boating on area lakes.

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.

Sigler also reminds 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.

Promoting campus safety is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates 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 next enforcement period runs during the Labor Day holiday, from Aug. 30 through Sept. 12.

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.