Illinois State Police (ISP) announced Thursday that districts statewide will enforce road safety with a special enforcement memorial operation dedicated to fallen Trooper James Sauter, who was killed in the line of duty on March 28, 2013, when his ISP squad was struck by a truck tractor semi-trailer at I-294 southbound at Willow Road.
ISP officials underscored that Operation Sauter will also place a targeted focus on the safe driving of commercial motor vehicles. Within the last two years, ISP buried two troopers and remain hopeful that another trooper recovers from life threatening injuries – all resulting from commercial motor vehicle crashes.
“The men and women of the ISP want Operation Sauter to remind the motoring public and commercial motor vehicle operators that safe driving saves lives,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau. “Today, ISP officers statewide will enforce the road safety laws and remember Jim’s courage and dedication to keeping our roads and drivers safe,” Grau added.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration passed new hours of service regulations in February 2013 restricting long-haul drivers to 70 hours of driving per week, a 15 percent reduction from the previous limit.
Driver fatigue is a growing problem for all motorists and can result in deadly consequences. The ISP has recently adopted the slogan “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow” to emphasize the importance of adequate rest for drivers.
All ISP sworn personnel are committed to working Operation Sauter, and will be aggressively patrolling Illinois roadways for 24 consecutive hours, today through Saturday, in remembrance of fallen ISP Trooper James Sauter.
“Operation Sauter will kick off with ISP officers saturating the interstates statewide, conducting road side safety checks to enforce the ISP’s Fatal Four mission: Speeding, Seatbelts, DUI and Distracted Driving, to ensure the safety of the motoring public in preparation for the busy spring travel season,” said ISP Division of Operations Colonel Michael Zerbonia.
“However our number one goal during this 24 hour enforcement period is to raise public awareness within the motor carrier industry on the importance of safety regulations – namely driver fatigue – because drowsiness can have the same effects as driving under the influence,” added Zerbonia.
Officials also stressed that fines have increased to $120.00 for texting while driving, and hand held electronic devices are prohibited while driving.
The Illinois State Police urge motorists and out-of-state visitors to plan ahead, follow the rules of the road, and take the necessary safety precautions during this spring’s driving season.