State grant allows EPD to step up traffic enforcement

Grace Johnson

The Evanston Police Department is launching a series of traffic enforcement campaigns to decrease accidents and increase traffic safety.

Evanston was selected for a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation, which will provide the department with funds to support 108 additional hours of patrols, from among police departments across Illinois.

“Over hundreds of departments put in for the grant,” Evanston Police Cmdr. Tom Guenther said. “But we seem to do well in the process because we take traffic very seriously here.”

EPD received the grant this fall after applying in the spring.

The additional hours the grant gives the department will be used to target specific areas around Evanston, Guenther said.

“The traffic department sets up certain areas where they will perform patrols at trouble spots and concentrate on certain things based on analysis where we see issues,” he said. “We look at seat belts around schools for example, and in other areas where it’s needed.”

Northwestern University Police, who aren’t working specifically with EPD on these campaigns, always keep a close watch on traffic issues, University Police Deputy Chief Daniel McAleer said.

“We continue to enforce traffic violations in general on Sheridan Road and nearby roads,” he said. “We are out there every day and every night.”

Traffic on Sheridan Road can be particularly dangerous, said Weinberg junior Candace Carter, who regularly drives around campus.

“People definitely go faster than 30(mph),” she said. “Later at night people definitely drive much faster than they’re supposed to. I definitely have to remind myself to go 30.”

Evanston’s efforts to increase traffic enforcement come after a car struck Mavis Sotnick, a Kellogg School of Management employee, on Oct. 27. She later died from the injuries she sustained from the accident.

“Our officers are always mindful that crossing Sheridan Road can be dangerous because of the fact it’s a two-lane highway in each direction,” McAleer said. “People sometimes go over the speed limit and people crossing the street sometimes aren’t paying attention as well as they should.”

Increased traffic enforcement efforts through EPD’s campaign will be beneficial to the community, as long as drivers work to be safe too, Carter said.

“People are definitely going to have to make a conscious effort to go the speed limit,” she said.

Guenther said EPD hopes the campaign will have a constructive effect on traffic safety.

“In Evanston, anytime we can get the message out in a positive way and do positive enforcement and try to make the roads safer for everyone, I think it’s a winner, numbers aside,” he said.[email protected]