Local law enforcement say the one-two punch of warm weather and holiday travel mean a lot of drivers will be on Quad-City area roads.
The Iowa State Patrol will have troopers working the “Buckle Up America” project in the area through Sunday.
“I believe having all persons in a vehicle using seat belts is the single most important tool to keep everyone safe,” Iowa State Patrol Trooper Dan Loussaert said.
“Not wearing a seat belt affects the safety of all other people riding in the vehicle. All the safety technology in a vehicle only works properly if everyone is wearing a seat belt.”
An unbelted back seat passenger can impact a front-seat passenger or driver during a crash, he said.
In Iowa, only the driver and front-seat passenger are required to wear seat belts. Anyone under 18 must wear seat belts, even in the back seat.
In Illinois, everyone is required to wear a seat belt regardless of age and seating position.
Police departments in Moline, East Moline and Rock Island received an Illinois grant to enforce seat-belt usage and prevent drunken driving during the holidays.
“We realize there will be a lot more traffic,” Moline Police Sgt. Tim DeVrieze said.
He anticipates more drunken drivers on the road beginning Wednesday night and going into the long weekend. He also said that with the Black Friday retail blitz beginning Thursday night, more shoppers will be on the road.
Moline’s state grant of $20,000 will help the police department put more patrol officers on the street.
“People need to be aware we’re out there,” DeVrieze said.
The Illinois Department of Transportation held a news conference Tuesday morning to launch its “Drive to Survive” campaign.
“Unfortunately, crash data shows that too many motorists, particularly after dark, still need a reminder to buckle up and drive sober,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said.
During the 2011 Thanksgiving weekend, eight people died in traffic crashes on Illinois roadways and 839 were injured, according to IDOT statistics. Of the eight who died, four died in crashes where at least one driver had been drinking.
“We’re looking for traffic violators,” Rock Island County Sheriff Jeff Boyd said. “We want to make sure everyone gets to where they want to go safely.”
Boyd anticipates the warmer-than-usual weather for this time of year will bring out more drivers.
“It’ll be a nicer holiday,” he said. “We encourage people to wear their seat belts and don’t drink and drive.”
Thanksgiving Day will be warm with a high reaching about 60 degrees, but there is a 40 percent chance of rain, said meteorologist David Sheets of the National Weather Service, Davenport.
Friday, however, will dawn sunny, breezy and much colder, he said.
A cold front is expected to hit late Thursday, causing temperatures to plummet.
Friday’s high is expected to be about 38 degrees while the overnight low is expected to dip to the lower 20, Sheets said.
Saturday’s high is expected to be the mid 30s under mostly sunny skies, while Sunday’s high is forecast to hit the mid-40s, he said.
The Quad-City International Airport is getting ready for what is its busiest holiday for travel, said Bryan Johnson, assistant aviation director. “Thanksgiving is No. 1, and Christmas is No. 2.”
Johnson and David Dailey, the federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, urge holiday travelers to plan ahead and arrive early at the airport.
“We’re dealing with a different type of traveler than the normal business traveler,” Dailey said, adding that holiday travelers do not fly as often and may not be as aware of screening procedures. “We want to make sure they have a good screening experience too.”
Dailey suggests passengers arrive one hour before their departure time.
“Thirty minutes before (departure), that is actually boarding time,” he said.
According to Johnson, the heaviest travel days at the airport will be today, due in part to the fact that Allegiant has moved its normal Thursday flights to today because of the holiday. Air travel also will be heavy on Sunday and Monday as people return home, he said.