KANSAS CITY, MO--(Marketwire - Nov 21, 2011) - Area law enforcement agencies remind highway travelers this Thanksgiving that the only belt that should be left unbuckled this year, or any year, is the one holding up your trousers -- not the seat belt in your car.
"Seat belts have saved more lives than any other single piece of automotive safety equipment," said Romell Cooks, Regional Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Region 7. "But in order for them to work, they have to be used. This Thanksgiving, and every day and night of the year, make sure you buckle your seat belt so you'll have the opportunity to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends."
Nationally, during the Thanksgiving holiday period in 2009 (which ran from 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, to 5:59 a.m., Monday, November 30), 303 passenger vehicle occupants died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Data shows 115 fatalities occurred during daylight hours (6 a.m. to 5:59 p.m.) and 187 during night time (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.).
According to NHTSA, nighttime is one of the more dangerous times on the road because seat belt use is traditionally lower. Of the 187 passenger vehicle occupant deaths at night during the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday period, over one-half (54%) did not have their seat belts fastened (where seat belt use was known); while 49 percent in day-time crashes were not wearing seat belts.
"There is no holiday more closely associated with the American family, or with American travel, than Thanksgiving," said Ms. Cooks. "But if you hit the highways unbelted, the faces you could be seeing this Holiday might belong to an emergency room physician or nurse instead of the faces of your family and friends."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes. Research has shown that when lap and shoulder belts are used properly, the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent.
For more information about traveling safely during Thanksgiving, please visit www.TrafficSafetyMarketing.gov.