Motorists urged to drive with caution at Thanksgiving

Staff report

Fulton County Safe Communities is joining in a national effort to send Thanksgiving travelers an important lifesaving reminder to “Buckle Up–Every Trip. Every Time.”

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel times of the year, and more people on the road increases the likelihood of a crash. During the 2014 Thanksgiving weekend alone, 341 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide, and 50 percent were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash. For those Thanksgiving weekend crashes that occurred at night, the percentage of unbuckled occupants killed jumped to an unsettling 58 percent.

“Half of all drivers and passengers killed in crashes on Thanksgiving weekend in 2014 weren’t wearing seat belts at the time of their fatal crash,” said Fulton County Sheriff Roy Miller. “This statistic is staggering when we know seat belt use is one of the simplest ways to stay safe when you’re in a vehicle.”

Law enforcement has also noted a significant increase in drinking, particularly among underage youth around the holidays, specifically the Wednesday evening prior to Thanksgiving. Healthy Choices Caring Communities (HC3) will support local law enforcement efforts to address this issue through the addition of multi-agency task force party patrols throughout the holiday season.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that proper seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury by 50 percent. In 2014, approximately 12,802 people survived crashes because they were buckled up. If everyone had worn their seat belts that year, an additional 2,814 lives could have been saved.

NHTSA’s research reveals that males are more likely to be unbuckled than females in a fatal crash, and that younger drivers are also at greater risk of being unbuckled in a fatal crash.

In 2014, 53 percent of the males killed in crashes were not buckled up at the time of the crash, compared to 40 percent of females. And 13 to 15 year-olds and 25 to 34 year-olds had the highest percentages (59 percent) of occupants killed who were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash.

Staff report