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August 28, 2000

Safety Belt Use in Illinois Rises Above 70 Percent

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan announced today that the use of safety belts on Illinois roads and highways has reached an all-time high with slightly more than 70 percent of the state's motorists buckling up.

A recent survey conducted by the state Department of Transportation indicates that 70.2 percent of travelers in Illinois use safety belts. This is a 6 percent increase in seat belt usage from the results of last year's survey. The 1999 study indicated that 65.9 percent of Illinois motorists used seat belts.

"Using a seat belt is one of the easiest and most effective ways for motorists to improve traffic safety. This new number means that more than 288,000 people are buckling up in Illinois and more lives are being saved," Ryan said. "We have reached this milestone through the dedicated efforts of law enforcement and our 'Click It or Ticket' campaign, as well as heightened awareness by motorists who see seat belts as a way to save lives."

The "Click It or Ticket" campaign, initiated on May 1 by IDOT, involves about 400 law enforcement agencies throughout the state, including the Illinois State Police, county sheriffs and municipal police departments. The campaign combines, at various times throughout the year, a week's worth of intensive public education and awareness followed by two weeks of enhanced enforcement of Illinois' mandatory seat belt law.

"It's estimated that 360 highway deaths and more than 1,800 injuries have been prevented as a result of this significant increase in the use of safety belts," said State Transportation Secretary Kirk Brown. "We have seen a gradual increase in the use of safety belts over the last three years, but this is the largest one-year increase and the first time we have broken the 70 percent barrier."

The statewide safety belt use survey is conducted annually by IDOT at 258 locations around the state on interstate highways, state routes and in residential areas. Among automobile drivers and passengers, the highest use rates were recorded on interstate highways and in the "collar" counties surrounding Cook County. The usage rate for the drivers of pick-up trucks was nearly 20 percentage points below the rate for automobile drivers. Seat belt use in residential areas is 15 percentage points lower than the rate on interstates.


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