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Letter to the Editor: Drive safely during the holidays

Sunday, November 19, 2006

To the editor: Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and families everywhere are making plans for how they will celebrate the holiday season that culminates on New Year's Eve. This is a time for family, friends and festive celebrations, happiness, joy and hopes for the future. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of enormous tragedy simply because someone chooses to drive while impaired or forgets to buckle his safety belt.

Here in Illinois, we've made great strides since 2003 when Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed into law the primary enforcement of safety belts. We have been able to reduce our fatalities from 1,454 in 2003 to 1,360 last year, and this year we are on a pace to have the fewest fatalities since 1924. Through October of this year 1,032 people have been killed in traffic crashes on Illinois roads, 80 fewer than for the same time period in 2005.

While we have made great strides in improving safety, we can and should always strive to do better. In Alexander County, we've actually seen four times as many people killed in car crashes through the first 10 months of this year than the same time period last year. Those are husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who have lost their lives.

I urge you to buckle up every trip, every time. And please don't drink and drive. Let's make this a safe holiday season for everyone.

TIMOTHY MARTIN, Secretary, Illinois Department of Transportation, Springfield, Ill.