August 29, 2005

SIUC police to step up traffic safety enforcement

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Department of Public Safety is again urging motorists to drive safely during the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

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

The enforcement period begins today and runs through Sunday, Sept. 11. The first seven rounds were in October, November, December, March, April, May and June.

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 June 23-July 4, there were eight arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, two tickets for illegal transportation of alcohol, 16 speeding tickets, six safety belt citations, and two tickets for driving while license suspended.

Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler emphasized that motorists who are considering drinking alcohol need to be responsible and plan ahead for a designated driver or other transportation arrangements, such as a cab.

"This is one of the last heavily traveled weekends concluding the summer. We have a number of students who are back in the area so traffic volume is going to be much heavier," he said.

The grant allows SIUC police to conduct traffic activities for a specific number of hours during a two-week period.

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 in the previous 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.