File Photo – Illinois State Police | Photo: Woo-Sung Shim / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

(The Center Square) – Illinois State Police and other law enforcement agencies say they have increased their presence on the roads this holiday weekend to crack down on drunk and reckless driving.

Part of a nationwide effort of over 600 law enforcement agencies, the “Border to Border” campaign aims to remind drivers to slow down, wear a seat belt, stay sober and not drive distracted.

Illinois State Trooper and Safety Education Officer Josh Robinson said they are hoping the sight of a police car will remind motorists to practice safe driving.

“You’ll see more troopers along interstates in Illinois, state routes and highways, even county roads and country roads, and we’re hoping visibility alone will change driving behavior,” he told the Illinois Radio Network.

Last year, there were 14 traffic fatalities over Memorial Day weekend.

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“Having 14 people lose their lives over one holiday weekend is just too many, so we’re going to do our best this weekend to work traffic enforcement all over the state,” he said.

A weekend with zero fatalities is their goal, Robinson said.

For motorists and riders, safety on the road is often in their own hands.

A big part of the campaign is to encourage wearing a seat belt. Robinson says many crashes happen in which people are not wearing their seatbelts.

“They’re not restrained, so a simple crash where you’d be right in your seat if you were wearing your seat belt now becomes something where you can get seriously injured or even killed because of the impact,” he said.

Not only is an individual’s life in the balance, but also other riders in the car, Robinson pointed out.

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“Think about it this way: maybe you’re a backseat passenger and you choose not to wear a seat belt — everybody else in the car has theirs on,” Robinson said.

“You get into a crash, maybe start rolling over, you’re body’s going to get tossed around like a rag doll, and the weight of your body striking all these other people can injure or even kill them,” he said.

Wearing a seat belt is one of the “fatal four” the Illinois State Police likes to focus on. The others are speeding, driving under the influence and distracted driving.

Robinson said almost always at least one of these four factors is involved in vehicular crashes.

“If people choose to make a poor decision and not wear their seat belt, they’re going to get pulled over by some law enforcement agency — either the [State Police] or someone else — and they can get a citation,” Robinson said.

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He reminds drivers to slow down, take advantage of rideshare options, use a hands-free device, and wait to do other distracting activities like eating, putting on makeup or watching a movie.

Choices made behind the wheel can have life-altering consequences, so make good ones, he said.