EPD starts campaign to more strongly enforce seat belt laws

Julian Gerez, Assistant City Editor

The Evanston Police Department is working with two state organizations and hundreds of local law enforcement agencies for a campaign to strongly enforce seat belt laws, particularly on Memorial Day weekend.

EPD Cmdr. Jay Parrottsaid the collaboration with the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Police helps put more officers on patrol on major holidays like Memorial Day that “traditionally have a higher rate of no seat belt usage, injuries and accidents and drinking and driving.”

“It’s a focused effort for these specific types of violations,” Parrott said.

There were three fatalities, two of which were alcohol-related, and almost 600 injuries on Illinois roadways during last year’s Memorial Day weekend, police said.

Even though the campaign runs May 9-26, Parrott said the IDOT has various programs that run throughout the year.

The Illinois safety belt laws require each driver and passenger to wear a seat belt. The overall seat belt usage rate for rear seat occupants was 77.4 percent compared to 93.7 percent for drivers and front seat passengers, according to statewide observational surveys conducted by the IDOT in 2013.

Back seat passengers in Illinois accounted for 46 fatalities, 30 of which occurred when the person was not wearing a seat belt, and more than 5,000 injuries, police said.

The campaign is not limited to Evanston. Other participating communities include Franklin Park and Naperville.

“We received money from IDOT, that’s grant money provided by the state to various police departments throughout the state of Illinois,” Parrott said.

Ciara McCarthy contributed reporting.

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