The number of Thanksgiving holiday travelers is growing as millions of Americans hit the road, eager to spend time with friends and family in places near and far. It's one of the busiest holiday travel periods every year, and unfortunately more people on the roadways means there is a greater potential for an increase in traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities.
During the Thanksgiving holiday, Arkansas law enforcement officers from local, county and state departments are teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on a high-visibility Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign that begins on Monday, November 25 and continuing through Sunday, December 1. The goal is to reduce the number of fatalities that occur when drivers and passengers fail to buckle up. If you're spotted not buckled up by Arkansas State Troopers or other law enforcement officers, you risk getting a ticket.
The Click It or Ticket campaign is designed to save lives by making sure all Arkansas drivers and passengers get the message to wear their seat belts. The campaign combines powerful messages about seat belt safety with stepped-up patrols by law enforcement officers, many of them working exclusively to identify seat belt law violators.
In addition to patrolling all U.S. and state two-lane highways, Arkansas State Troopers will participate in an intensified enforcement operation along Interstate 40 during the most heavily traveled hours of the Thanksgiving holiday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, November 27 and Sunday, December 1.
During the 2017 Thanksgiving travel period (6 p.m. Wednesday, November 22, until 5:59 a.m. Monday, November 27), 365 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide. Evening hours proved to be the most deadly with 57 percent of crashes occurring during nighttime hours.
"Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective precaution drivers and passengers can take to prevent injury or death as the result of a motor vehicle crash," says Searcy County Chief Deputy Dewayne Pierce.
"Too many drivers and their passengers choose to ignore the facts and don't comply with the state's primary seat belt law," Pierce said. "Tragically, this decision leads to an increase in injuries and deaths on the highway."
Chief Pierce reminds drivers, "Whether you're driving cross-country or across the street, you must wear your seat belt and it may prove to be the life or death difference for you and your family."
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 2016, approximately 14,668 people survived crashes because they were buckled up. If everyone had worn their seat belts that year, as many as 2,456 lives might have been saved.
For more information about highway safety during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, please visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136 or the Searcy County Sheriff's Office at 870-448-2340. For more on Arkansas' ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDArkansas.org.