By Wafaa Ezzat

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) – New Year’s is a time for celebration and looking forward to new beginnings and the opportunity to start fresh.

However, this festive occasion brings with it a spike in road dangers, turning moments of joy into potential tragedies. According to The National Safety Council (NSC), the time between Christmas and New year’s experiences the highest levels of car accidents that lead to serious injuries or deaths.

The Illinois State Police say they will be working overtime to keep travelers safe this weekend.

“We are in our final statewide enforcement push for the year, which really our overarching goal is to save lives. And that includes intoxicated driving, focusing on removing our intoxicated drivers, but also those that are speeding and are distracted drivers. Again, these are three things that lead to a majority of our personal injury crashes, and not only puts the person that is making the bad choice at risk, but everyone else on the road around them,” said Trooper Melissa Albert-Lopez, Illinois State Police Public Information Office.

The number of deaths on Iowa roads now exceeds last year’s, according to Iowa DOT 375 people have died this year on the road, which is 41 more than a year ago. And just across the river, in Illinois, there were 1,138 crashes this year that led to 1,236 fatalities, which is 21 less than during the same period last year.

Trooper Albert-Lopez says that distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car crashes.

“In 2022, the Illinois State Police issued 7200 citations for use an electronic communication device will operate in a motor vehicle. This year when we haven’t even finished the year. We’re at over 10,700 That’s an increase of over 3500 citations for people committing this offense.”

Starting Jan 1st, it will be illegal to video conference or use social media while behind the wheel.

According to the Illinois state police, breaking the law could result in a $75 fine and could be doubled to $150 for a second offense. In case of a crash, it may escalate to a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum $1,000 fine, and in case of a fatality, it becomes a Class Four felony.

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