December 22, 2004

Police expand traffic enforcement during holidays

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - - With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season in full force, the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Department of Public Safety is reminding motorists to drive carefully.

SIUC police are conducting expanded traffic enforcement to crack down on drunken driving during the holiday season. The third round of concentrated enforcement is between Wednesday, Dec. 22 and Tuesday, Jan. 4.

The enforcement effort focuses on alcohol, speed and seat belt use, SIUC Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler said.

The increased enforcement is the result of a $15,892 grant the University received for a third consecutive year from the Illinois Department of Transportation¹s Mini-Alcohol Enforcement Program. The grant allows SIUC to hire off-duty officers for traffic enforcement activity for a specific number of hours over a two-week period. The award pays for 336 hours of additional patrol time during eight enforcement periods through Sept. 30, 2005.

The department will conduct an additional 42 hours of enforcement during this period, Sigler said. He emphasized that motorists who anticipate drinking alcohol should use a designated driver or stay where the celebration is being held.

In Illinois in 2003, 44 percent, or 639 of 1,453 people killed in traffic crashes were alcohol-related fatalities, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. So far this year, 134 over SIUC police expand traffic patrol page 2 alcohol-related crashes resulted in the deaths of 139 people statewide.

Police officers also emphasize the use of seat belts. Six motorists received safety belt citations during the last enforcement period between Nov. 22 and Dec. 4. There were also two citations for speeding, two for child-restraint violations, and one arrest each for a drug-related offense, outstanding warrant, and driving with a suspended license.

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.

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 IDOT¹s Division of Traffic Safety.