Chicago prepares for safe holiday weekend

June 30, 2010 6:26:54 PM PDT
As the Independence Day weekend approaches, authorities are urging the public to celebrate safely at holiday events.

Law enforcement officials are promising to crack down on impaired driving and impaired boating.

From 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. is the most dangerous time to be on the road since that's when drunks are more likely than not to be at the wheel, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation, and the likelihood of an accident increases.

"Whether you are at the lake, at a family gathering or travelling a further distance, drive sober, always buckle up. If you do not, you will be caught. Federal officials are helping coordinate law enforcement on the water and in the streets this weekend," said Bob Park, Illinois Dept. of Transportation.

"Make smart decisions, plan ahead, so you can ensure a safe drive home. Whether you have had too many, or just one too many, it is not worth the risk," said Alex Cabrel, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

At Belmont Harbor, boaters are being warned to expect massive traffic in and around marinas, and on Lake Michigan. Terry Foley is taking his 50-footer and heading out to Saugatuk.

"Make sure that you are under control. Make sure that you have all the proper safety equipment, and make sure you yourself are under control and can handle it," said Foley.

People looking for fireworks need to remember budget cuts have changed some Chicago traditions.

Boats will compete for space along the Chicago lakefront in three locations for Navy Pier-sponsored Fourth of July fireworks that will take place on Sunday the Fourth -- not the day before as Chicago tradition dictates.

"That's not right, I mean with all the tickets they are giving out here for alcohol it should make up for whatever they are losing out on," said Jimmy Villanueva.

The city's cancelled display will be replaced downtown at the Pier, south at the 63rd Street beach, and on the North Side at Montrose Harbor.

"It gives Chicago residents and their guests an opportunity to enjoy it even more because you don't have everyone gathered in one location," said Delores Robinson, Navy Pier.

Back to the issue of intoxication, the Illinois State Police says there has been a 70 percent drop in fatalities on Cook county expressways this year and that corresponds to arrests for DIU increasing nearly 80 percent.


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