Police in Evanston are reminding residents to fasten their seat belts and drive sober over the Thanksgiving holiday or run the risk of receiving a ticket or being arrested. 

The Evanston Police Department is joining the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois State Police (ISP) and local law enforcement agencies across the state to save more lives by strongly enforcing seat belt and impaired driving laws.

 “Whether you’re going across town or across the state this Thanksgiving, please make sure everyone in the car is wearing their seat belt. As of Jan. 1, 2012, by law in Illinois, everyone must wear a seat belt no matter what seat you occupy in a vehicle,” said Sgt. Tracy Williams, Traffic Bureau Supervisor. “Our officers are prepared to ticket anyone who is not wearing a seat belt and arrest those choosing to drive impaired.”

IDOT reports that Illinois has a 93.7 percent daytime seat belt usage rate. However, the agency also reports that far too many drivers and passengers still do not buckle up – especially late at night. In Illinois, during the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday, nine vehicle occupants died in motor vehicle traffic crashes and more than 700 persons were injured. Three of those deaths involved a drinking driver. IDOT cautions that wearing a seat belt is the best defense against an impaired driver.

  “Our goal is to save more lives, so the Evanston Police Department will be out enforcing seat belt laws around the clock,” said Cmdr. Jay Parrott, the department’s spokesman. “Additional enforcement will take place late at night when belt use is at its lowest and impaired driving is the biggest problem.”

 According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts saved almost 12,000 lives nationwide in 2011.

More information about the Click It or Ticket and the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaigns is available at www.buckleupillinois.org.