October 15, 2004

Police stepping up traffic enforcement effort

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - - For the third consecutive year, Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Department of Public Safety is using a federal safety grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation to crack down on drunken driving.

SIUC police will conduct the first round of concentrated enforcement for two periods between Oct. 18 and Oct. 31.

The University received a $15,892 grant through the transportation department's Mini- Alcohol Enforcement Program, or MAP grant.

The grant allows SIUC to hire off-duty officers to conduct traffic enforcement activities for a specific number of hours over a two-week period. The award will allow the department to pay for 336 hours of additional patrol time during eight enforcement periods between Oct. 1 and Sept. 30, 2005.

The program's emphasis is on enforcing DUI, speeding and safety belt laws, said Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler.

During SIUC's two years in the program, police made 44 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol. Of the 28 DUI arrests during last year's enforcement period, the motorists' average blood alcohol concentration was .15. Illinois law defines a motorist as intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration is a minimum of .08.

"One thing we have found that is interesting in looking at some of our data is the number of contacts we have which are non-student related, which suggests a high volume of out-of-town individuals coming to the Carbondale area to frequent the bars," Sigler said.

There were other violations ­ eight tickets for illegal transportation of alcohol, 13 for motorists driving with suspended licenses, 34 seat belt violations and 53 tickets for speeding.

"We hope that as a spin-off of all of this, that the campus and the roads around campus are much safer," he said.

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. Also consistent with Southern@150, DPS pursues new sources of external grant funding as well as educating students about high-risk behaviors that would compromise their safety.

An additional component of the program is that $100 from DUI fines goes back to the Department of Public Safety. The department used the funds to buy cameras for each of five squad cars and to replenish traffic citation books. The department has two digital cameras and three videotape cameras.

SIUC is one of 29 police agencies - - and only two universities - - in the state to receive the federal safety funds this year. Western Illinois University in Macomb also received funding, according to IDOT's Division of Traffic Safety.

For more information, contact Director Todd D. Sigler at the Department of Public Safety at 618/453-2381.