On Wednesday, August 16th 2017, traffic safety professionals from across the state gathered in Tinley Park for the annual Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge awards Banquet. Scores of officers, government officials and members of traffic safety associations spent the morning celebrating the traffic safety successes of law enforcement agencies in 2016. Many of these law enforcement agencies are long-time members of the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association.
The Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge is a program coordinated by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee, which allows agencies in Illinois to compare traffic safety programs to other agencies of a similar size. It is more than a friendly competition, it is a way to constantly learn and improve on traffic safety practices throughout the state. The ITEA is an honorary sponsor of the Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge and has board members that serve as judges for the Challenge’s submissions.
In order to compete in the Challenge, law enforcement agencies must submit a lengthy publication highlighting their yearly efforts in traffic safety policy, officer training, awards and recognition, public education and enforcement. The submission must also include a section, which documents the overall effectiveness of their efforts, and how it has affected their patrol jurisdiction. In addition, the Challenge offers specialty awards for departments who excel specifically in impaired driving enforcement, occupant protection, distracted driving awareness, pedestrian and bicycle safety, railroad crossing safety, speed awareness and, of course, commercial vehicle enforcement.
For those in the trucking industry, don’t get the wrong idea. The Challenge isn’t about which department writes the most tickets. It is about having an effective overall traffic program, which deters traffic violations, educates the public and reduces crashes. While enforcement numbers do play a small role in the Challenge, the other aforementioned categories are more significantly weighted.
What this program does specifically for the trucking industry is encourage agencies to take a proactive approach in educating those who operate or own commercial vehicles. Many of the participating police departments actively seek out businesses within their jurisdiction to conduct traffic safety training related to commercial vehicles. The great part about this type of training is that it addresses concerns on a local level by the officers who enforce truck laws in that area. It also allows creates a point of contact for local drivers.
In addition to educating members of the trucking community, the Challenge also demands there are sound operating procedures and policies in place when it comes to enforcement of certain laws. The goal of this demand is to create consistency in the enforcement operations of police departments throughout Illinois. Anyone who has read any of the ITEA’s literature, or attended ITEA training, knows fairness and consistency are our most sacred values. These values are shared by the administrators of the Traffic Safety Challenge.
Finally, and most importantly, the Challenge requires participating agencies to produce results. The judges want to see how impactful a police department’s traffic safety program actually is. The impact of a program is primarily measured by the number of crashes which occurred throughout the year. Judges want to see what is being done to preserve the life and property of those who reside or travel through a given jurisdiction.
If the appropriate amount of enforcement, education and engineering is utilized, the result should be a decrease in overall crashes and injuries. Overall, it reinforces the concept that all traffic enforcement is done for one specific reason – to keep people alive!
Here is the ITEA’s challenge to all of our law enforcement members: Take the time to create a traffic safety program which can run with the best of them. Any department of any size can have a successful program if they identify what traffic issues reside within their borders. Fair and consistent enforcement, coupled with educating the members of your community and training your officers is all it takes to be a champion.
Members of the trucking industry, don’t feel left out. You too can play a significant role in traffic safety. Reach out to local government and see if you can offer anything to help better educate the officers in your area. It could be as simple as inviting them to one of your company’s safety meetings. Give the officers a chance to teach you the fine points of the law. In return, offer to teach them something about your industry. You may be surprised at how eager police officers are to learn about your industry.
Traffic safety is not just the job of the police. We must all challenge ourselves to make the roads of Illinois safer to travel.
To learn more about the Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge, visit: www.iltrafficchallenge.org/