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Seat belt enforcement begins on Illinois highways

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CHICAGO (AP) _ Illinois law enforcement officers are beginning a crackdown on unbuckled motorists and impaired drivers as the summer travel season gets underway. The goal is to prevent highway deaths in the state, which now stand at about 245 for the year.

The Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois State Police and 500 local law enforcement agencies announced their plans to increase enforcement through Memorial Day.

A large number of patrols will be on the roads during late-night hours, when about half the unbuckled fatalities occur.

By state law, officers can issue tickets for unbuckled motorists in front and back seats. Nearly 1,400 passengers in vehicles who were killed in crashes on Illinois roads from 2009 through 2013 were not wearing seat belts.

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