EDITORIAL - Traffic enforcement works, but more is still needed

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

Peoria police chief Steven Settingsgaard, upon his arrival in Peoria, spoke often about his amazement at how often drivers in Peoria blew through red lights.

One intersection that really stood out for him is War Memorial and Glen.

One has to spend very little time driving in Peoria to realize Settingsgaard has every right to be concerned.

But, red lights are hardly the only driving concern as the weather gets nicer. 

School zone speed limits are routinely treated as a mere suggestion. This one is ignored by the majority of drivers.

In many parts of town, stop signs are not even considered by drivers as a suggestion. They seem to many drivers to apply only to the other guy at the intersection.  

While griping about traffic in Peoria, let us not overlook the 30 mph speed limit in residential areas. If you cannot name an area where you live that is routinely treated like a race track, you do not get out much.

That is why it is so encouraging to see the Illinois State Police issue statements like the one that came out June 1: 

“Illinois State Police District 8, Captain Dean Kennedy announced today the results from a two night DUI saturation patrol held in downtown Peoria over this past weekend. The patrols were held during the evening hours of May 29 and May 30.

“A total of 71 citations and 38 written warnings were issued.  Twenty-two of the citations were issued for failure to wear a seat belt. Three people were arrested for DUI. Seven people were arrested for underage drinking. Nineteen people were arrested on criminal charges.”

This is encouraging news for those who obey the traffic laws.

The money spent on troopers and police officers, often on overtime, is money well-spent.

A few weeks ago, Kristina Hestrom, owner of Balda Driving School, spoke about how driving has changed in Peoria over the past 50 years.

Driving habits have changed, Hestrom said.

“Since the business (Balda Driving School) has been in Peoria the roads have also become a lot more complicated to navigate and there is much more traffic,” Hestrom said. “I think what we’ll see is stricter enforcement of the laws on distracted driving by law enforcement. Too many adults, let alone new drivers, don’t recognize the danger of driving while talking on a cell phone.”

It is getting more daunting to drive out there. We deal with drivers who seem to be at one of two polar opposites. It seems we either have drivers who are aware — or drunk, distracted, or desperate to make better time.

Maybe that assessment is a little too harsh. But, spend any time at all driving on Peoria’s roads and you might agree it is a major concern. 

We need more police officers, saturation patrols and more enforcement.