If Gov. Pat Quinn accomplishes nothing else, he wants to be known as the Seatbelt Governor.
In an unusual act of gubernatorial back-patting, Quinn issued a press release today saying that according to “federal observational surveys,” 93.9 percent of front-seat passengers in Illinois used seatbelts as of June, “up from 92.9 percent last year and above the national average of 84 percent.”
However, the credit shouldn’t go to Quinn, but to his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich. In 2003, Blagojevich signed a bill allowing police to pull over a driver for not wearing a seatbelt. Before the law went into effect, front-seat usage was only 76.2 percent.
Quinn took that a step further last year, by signing a bill requiring back seat passengers to buckle-up. Statistics for back-seat usage were unavailable.
“State troopers work with IDOT and other organizations to promote safety awareness and enforce seat belt usage statewide, and we are pleased that more motorists are using their seat belts every year,” Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau said. “We also want to remind the public to drive sober and safely as the holiday weekend approaches – remember, don’t text and drive and watch for road workers.”
Quinn signed the state’s ban on texting while driving in 2009, so he can take full credit for that one. Quinn left the people of Illinois with a safety message reminiscent of gruesome Drivers’ Ed films.
“Labor Day Weekend should be a time of parades, barbeques and baseball, not sitting in a hospital ER, wondering if a loved one will survive a crash,” Governor Quinn said. “Seat belts save lives, and Illinois’ high seat belt usage rate is the result of our comprehensive efforts to ensure that drivers in Illinois are buckling up. When traveling this Labor Day, make sure everyone is buckled up, including those in the back seat, and such precious cargo as infants, the elderly and pets.”
This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $2.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.