The Illinois State Police will have 6-9 extra troopers on patrol in the metro-east from now through New Year’s Day.
Spokesman Calvin Dye Jr. said it’s part of a federally-funded detail to prevent traffic accidents during the holiday season.
“It seems like the last couple of years, most of the really bad crashes and the fatal crashes we’ve had have been linked to impaired or distracted drivers,” Dye said. “So that’s going to be the State Police’s biggest emphasis and push during the holiday season.”
Dye said the federal funds will be used to put troopers who would otherwise be off duty back on area highways. They additional officers, who will be watching for impaired drivers, people distracted by cell phones or other devices, people without seat belts and speeders, will not get called away from their special detail unless it’s an emergency. Dispatchers will send a car already assigned to patrol duty to routine calls.
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“It will be very aggressive enforcement,” Dye said. “A lot of people are unaware that after fatal crashes, we’re the ones who have to knock on the family’s door to deliver the terrible news. It really sticks with us to see the devastation, sadness and shock from the family.
“We view it as saving an innocent driver’s life every time we’re able to stop and impaired or distracted driver,” Dye said. “I’m sure every trooper will attest to that.”
Dye said, as it having to deliver heart-wrenching news to parents or children of people killed in crashes isn’t bad enough, occasionally a crash created a second dangerous situation.
“Sometimes because of cell phones, families hear about it before we have a chance to notify them and they come to the scene,” Dye said. “By a longshot, it’s the hardest part of our job. It really sticks with us for a while.”
State Police expect the roads to be busier than usual this holiday season. In addition to good weather encouraging more people to travel.
“College kids are home, people will be coming and going from parties,” Dye said. “Slow down and give yourself plenty of time to get there.”