Woodstock Police Department | File Photo

Local police departments are increasing patrols over the Thanksgiving holiday and reminding the public to drive sober or get pulled over. “No one needs an empty seat at the Thanksgiving dinner table.”

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said they are partnering with the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police, and nearly 200 local police departments and sheriff’s offices to remind motorists to “drive sober or get pulled over” and to buckle up throughout the Thanksgiving holiday.

“We all know that holidays are fun times for families and friends to come together to celebrate,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said.

“Please remember, while enjoying yourself it is important to have a plan to get home safely, which does not involve driving intoxicated,” Idleburg said.

The traffic safety campaign began on November 19 and ends on November 29, which authorities say is one of the busiest times on Illinois roadways.

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The Island Lake Police Department urged people to be responsible and said they would have extra officers on patrol. “Please be responsible, do the right thing, save protect yourself and others. No one needs an empty seat at the Thanksgiving dinner table.”

“It’s well known that Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel times of the year,” said Cynthia Watters, Illinois Department of Transportation’s bureau chief of Safety Programs and Engineering.

“Although more cars on the roads means the potential for more crashes, most are preventable. By making plans for a sober ride home before attending festivities as well as buckling up every trip, every time, you are helping to make yourself and everyone on the road safer,” Watters said.

IDOT officials are reminding the public that those who travel with children are required to put the child in a safety seat until at least age 8 in Illinois. Children must remain in a rear-facing seat until age 2.

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“Our troopers will be diligently enforcing traffic laws and pursuing criminality to ensure safe travel this holiday season so you can enjoy time with family and friends,” said Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly.

“Ensure everyone in the vehicle is buckled up, drive sober, keep your eyes on the road when behind the wheel, follow the speed limit and please move over for any vehicle with emergency lights activated on the road,” Kelly said.

As the end of 2021 nears, Illinois crash fatalities continue to rise, consistent with national trends, IDOT said.

There have been 1,090 fatalities as of November 12 compared to 1,029 on the same date in 2020, according to provisional data.

Law enforcement is “redoubling its efforts” over the Thanksgiving travel period.

Motorists will see hundreds of additional seat belt enforcement zones and other patrols aimed at keeping Illinois roads safe, IDOT said.