Police will be out in force this holiday season

December 20, 2018

The Christmas holiday season hits full stride this week as schools close and people set out to travel to visit family and friends.

Here’s a friendly reminder to prepare you for the annual holiday rush.

Alcohol and driving

The annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is upon us, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The agency reminds traveling motorists traveling they can expect to see increased law enforcement on the road in the coming weeks.

“We understand that during the holidays, people are running around, busily checking off items on their to-do list and attending parties,” Bourbonnais Police Chief James Phelps said.

“We need our community members to slow down and remember: It’s up to them to make the smart decision to drive sober — during the holidays and all year long. Impaired driving is a huge problem in Illinois, and unfortunately, we’re seeing a rise in drugged driving, too. Stay safe and stay sober on the roads.”

This year, for the first time, NHTSA’s annual campaign has expanded to focus not just on drunk, but also on drug-impaired driving with the If You Feel Different, You Drive Different campaign.

Last year, Illinois ranked fifth among states with the highest number of alcohol-related crashes in the month of December. Across the state, 29 lives were lost in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver.

According to NHTSA, 10,874 people were killed in 2017 in motor vehicle traffic crashes in which a driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of .08 grams per deciliter.

During the month of December 2017, 885 people lost their lives in nationwide traffic crashes involving a drunk driver.

Like drunk driving, drug-impaired driving is impaired driving, which means it is dangerous and illegal in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C.

On the road

AAA forecasts that more than one-third of Americans will travel this holiday season.

The record-breaking 112.5 million travelers taking to the nation’s runways, roads and rails for the year-end holidays represents a 4.4 percent increase over last year and the most since AAA has been tracking holiday travel. More than 102 million people who will pack up their cars for a holiday road trip.

In Illinois, over 5.8 million people will be traveling for the holiday weekend, which is a 4.4 percent increase from 2017. Of those travelers, 5.3 million will be driving (up 4.4 percent from 2017) and 316,000 will be flying to their destination (a 4 percent increase from 2017). Gas prices across Illinois are on average $2.33 per gallon, down from $2.66 last month and down from $2.50 a year ago.

A recent drop to the cheapest national gas price averages of the year, combined with rising disposable income, is motivating more Americans to hit the road this holiday season.

“’Tis the season for holiday travel, and more Americans than ever will journey to spend time with friends and family or choose to take a vacation,” said Beth Mosher, director of public affairs for AAA.

“Strong economic growth fueled by robust consumer spending continues to drive strong demand for seasonal travel. With a record-breaking one-third of the country choosing to travel this holiday, roadways and airports are sure to be busy.”

The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Saturday through Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. The 11-day span is one day longer than last year, due to Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Tuesdays this year.

Update hourly