Another STEP in the Right Direction

Thomas O'Neill III, Peoria County Board

In 2009, the Peoria County Board adopted four short-term strategic goals to help advance its vision that by 2025, Peoria County will be a collection of livable, sustainable communities with a strong, growing economy and connectivity within the region and to the world, providing opportunity for all its residents. The first of these four goals is to provide a safe and healthy community in which people can live, work and play, so that residents feel safe and secure at any location in Peoria County, including on our roadways.

No department within local government takes the charge of public safety more seriously than the Peoria County Sheriff's Office. For a fourth consecutive year, the Sheriff's Office is participating in the State of Illinois' Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program, or STEP Campaign, to ensure roadways within county limits are safe for all drivers and their passengers. The Illinois Department of Transportation's Division of Traffic Safety awarded the Sheriff's Office a $33,000 grant to be used for enhanced traffic enforcement through September 30, 2011.

STEP is designed to reduce the incidence of motor vehicle crashes and their resulting injuries and fatalities through increased and highly visible enforcement of impaired driving and safety belt restraint laws. These enhanced enforcement efforts are targeted at specific times of the day and times of the year, when statistics show impaired driving and unbuckled fatalities are the highest, namely during the overnight hours and around holiday seasons.

To kick off the current grant cycle, the Peoria County Sheriff's Office participated in an enforcement campaign sponsored by STEP during the Thanksgiving holiday. This effort added eight law enforcement details to the county's regular patrol schedule and resulted in 42 seat belt violations, two DUI arrests, one warrant arrest, one drug-related arrest and six tickets for various motor vehicle violations. A second campaign was conducted over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season. Enforcement efforts during these campaigns were typically concentrated between 11pm and 6am, when impaired driving rates increase, seat belt usage decreases, and more people die in crashes as a result of this unfortunate reality.

The Sheriff's Office will continue to implement saturation patrols and enforcement zones to reduce the incidence of impaired driving and unrestrained occupancy during the following upcoming STEP mobilization campaigns:

  • Super Bowl: January 28th to February 6th
  • St. Patrick's Day: March 11th to 20th 
  • Memorial Day: May 13th to May 30th 
  • July 4: June 17th to July 4th 
  • Labor Day: August 19th to September 5th.

By partnering with the State of Illinois through the STEP Campaign, Peoria County is able to increase enforcement of impaired driving and safety restraints in a collaborative effort to reduce the number of preventable fatalities that result from these violations. Having fewer drunk drivers and more buckled drivers on roadways will save lives and make our community safer for residents and travelers alike. Learn more about the STEP Campaign and Peoria County's efforts at peoriacounty.org. iBi  

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