OCPD is Urging Citizens to Use Seat Belts and Practice Safe Travel Habits This Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving Holiday is one of the busiest single travel days of the year. Despite the sluggish US economy AAA expects holiday travel to increase this year. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is marked from Wednesday November 21 through Saturday November 24. 

The US Department of Transportation recommends the following safety tips:

  • Always buckle up. In 2004, an estimated 55 percent of those killed in passenger vehicle crashes were not wearing safety belts.
  • Don’t tailgate. For every 10 mph of speed, stay at least one vehicle length behind the vehicle in front of you.
  • On icy roads, you should allow at least three times more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Remember that bridges and overpasses are usually the first to freeze in cold conditions.
  • Slow down during bad weather. Each year, there are approximately 6,500 fatalities and 450,000 injuries from crashes that occur during bad weather.
  • Use child safety seats properly.
  • Obey speed limits.
  • Slow-down in construction zones and pay attention to warning signs and road crew flaggers.


“Seat belts continue to save more lives than any other single piece of automotive safety equipment,” said Chief Bernadette DiPino.  “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 up your seat belt and you’ll have the opportunity to unbuckle that other belt at the feast table with your family and friends.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA);

  • During the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday (which ran from 6 p.m., Wednesday, November 24, to 5:59 a.m., Monday, November 29) 337 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationwide, and 55 percent of those killed were unbelted. 
  • Nighttime hours are the most dangerous.  In 2010 nationally, 61 percent of the 10,647 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes overnight (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash, compared to 42 percent during the daytime hours.
  • Unfortunately, nighttime fatalities spike over the Thanksgiving holiday. During the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, 64 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes were unbelted, while only 41 percent of daytime fatalities during those same days involved unbelted passenger vehicle occupants.

“The Thanksgiving holiday is traditionally spent with family, said DiPino.  “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.