IDOT: Drive sober and wear seatbelts during Thanksgiving travel

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 8:01 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Many Illinoisans will be hit the road Wednesday to visit family or friends for Thanksgiving. However, drivers should also be on the lookout for people driving dangerously on Blackout Wednesday.

The unofficial holiday has become more popular over recent years as college students and young professionals go to bars with their friends from home. The Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Police say you should always wear a seatbelt and plan ahead for a designated driver or rideshare app if you are drinking.

Unfortunately, 12 people were killed in crashes on Illinois roads during the Thanksgiving holiday last year. Four of those incidents involved drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

IDOT spokesperson Paul Wappel said Tuesday that no one should drive drunk or impaired.

“Go ahead. You want to have fun and celebrate. That’s great, but get a designated driver,” Wappel said. “Keep yourself safe, keep everybody in your vehicle safe, and the lives of anybody else on the road safe.”

State Police and local law enforcement will be out in full force looking for impaired drivers and people not wearing seatbelts. They will partner with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a high-visibility Click It or Ticket campaign through Monday.

Wappel said wearing a seatbelt is your best defense in a crash. Driving drunk and not wearing seatbelts are the leading causes of death on Illinois roads.

AAA is predicting roughly 55 million Americans will drive for Thanksgiving trips over the long weekend. IDOT is opening some work zones across the state to help ease the traffic. While auto travel remains 2.5% lower than pre-pandemic levels, you can expect to see many people out on the road.

IDOT officials say some work zone lanes will open where possible unless there needs to be an emergency closure. Wappel said all drivers should be alert and look for orange signs in work zones that will still be in place. IDOT and State Police also stressed that people have to move over if they see a vehicle polled over on the side of the road with emergency lights on.

“If you see any vehicle stranded on the side of the road with their hazard lights on or just on the right side of the road, give them room,” Wappel said. “Get over in the other lane, give them space. It’s the law. It could save your life and the lives of others.”

State Police reported last Tuesday that 23 squad cars have been hit in Scott’s Law violations this year.

Wappel said a common misconception is that people can speed when work zone lanes are reopened. Although, you should always slow down and pay attention to your surroundings in work zones.

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