UPDATED 09/02/11 9:35 a.m.
DES PLAINES, Ill. (CBS) — Many Chicagoans will be hitting the road for the last holiday weekend of the summer Friday, and police will be out in force to make sure the roads stay safe.
As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, en route from the Loop to the Des Plaines Oasis, he and his crew saw two people were pulled over by Illinois State Police. If motorists do not obey the rules of the road, there will no doubt me many more.
On Thursday, Rita Kreslin of Schaumburg was joined by police officers to talk about the worst day of her life, caused by a drunken driver.
“I will never forget my son, Kevin, who was only 15 at the time, sitting at the top of our stairs, listening to a police officer and a chaplain tell my husband and I that our son died in a car crash just before 10 p.m. that evening,” she said.
Rita Kreslin’s son and Kevin’s older brother, Butler University pharmacy student John Kreslin Jr., was the passenger in a car being driven by a drunken driver on Aug. 30, 2002. The car hit a tree at 60 mph, with John, his girlfriend and two other girls inside.
The crash happened nearly a decade ago, but the feelings are still raw.
“It’s been nine years, and it’s still the first thing I think of every morning when I wake up, and the last thing on my mind when I go to bed at night,” Rita Kreslin said.
Kreslin has become an activist since the death of her son, which is one reason why she joined police and other law enforcement officials yesterday at a news conference highlighting the dangers of drunk driving.
Alex Cabral, of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says “drunk driving is not an accident, but an epidemic of careless disregard for human life.”
State police warned they will conduct an unprecedented 300 roadside safety checks this weekend, and they won’t just be looking for drunk drivers.
“Our focus will target the fatal four – impaired driving, speeders, seat belt violators, and distracted driving,” said State Police Lt. Paul Riggio. There will be 300 checkpoints statewide, most of them in Chicago and the suburbs.
Last year during Labor Day weekend, State Police issued 6,500 citations for those four infractions alone.
Most of the roadside safety checks will be conducted late at night, when most crashes involving drunk drivers occur.
Chicago Police Department Traffic Division Sgt. Scott Slavin says your chances of driving into a roadside safety check will increase dramatically after dark this weekend.
Meanwhile, gas prices are the second highest they have ever been during a Labor Day weekend, with the average price in Chicago Friday morning at $3.99 per gallon.
WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya found one Bensenville man putting a few dollars of gas in his tank Friday morning.
“I just think it’s going to be tough on a lot of people who are traveling this weekendm” he said, “Personally, I think a lot more people will be staying home.”
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
But the good news is that the construction season essentially comes to a halt at 3 p.m. Friday, as all non-emergency construction projects will be suspended to ease congestion on the busy travel day.