Thanksgiving Travelers Shouldn't Forget Seat Belts

The Thanksgiving Day 2007 planner from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) appears to give police officers and government officials enough information to persuade any motorist to buckle up during the upcoming holiday season. Surprisingly, perhaps, two groups still haven't gotten the seat belt message sufficiently: pickup truck occupants and rural residents. The planner's materials mention both.

The planner (www.nhtsa.gov/buckleup/planners/thanksgiving07/index.cfm) is part of a seat belt crackdown during the Thanksgiving holiday, with "Click It or Ticket" enforcement Nov. 18–25. Motorists should be buckled up while making short trips to the grocery store, long trips to see relatives back home, and everything in between, the agency and safety advocates say. The planner cites NHTSA date for 2005 showing 31,415 passenger vehicle occupants died in crashes in the United States and more than half of them, 16,172, were not wearing seat belts. During the 2005 Thanksgiving holiday season, 376 people died in passenger vehicle crashes during the daytime hours of 6 a.m. to 5:59 p.m. and nearly the same number, 347 people, died at night, when the risk of a crash increases. Fifty-nine percent (205) of the nighttime 2005 victims weren't wearing seat belts, according to the planner's documents. Wearing lap/shoulder belts properly cuts the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent.

Nationally, in 2005, 6,038 occupants of pickup trucks were killed in vehicle crashes, and 65 percent of them (3,896) were not belted at the time of the crash. During the 2005 Thanksgiving season, 121 pickup truck drivers and passengers died in crashes nationwide, 64 percent while not wearing a seat belt.

For more information about the Thanksgiving campaign, visit www.nhtsa.gov/link/ciot.htm.

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