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ARKANSAS LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS URGE MOTORISTS TO BUCKLE-UP DURING THANKSGIVING TRAVEL

November 14, 2008 (LITTLE ROCK) – The Arkansas State Police will be working alongside law enforcement agencies across the state during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday period (November 24th – 30th). Together the troopers, local officers and deputies will be reminding all highway travelers to buckle up. The Thanksgiving holiday is typically one of the most dangerous and deadliest times for travel on the nation’s streets and highways. Whether the trip is across town or across the country, distance makes no difference, safety belts and restraints save lives. “Our troopers know from first hand experience that safety belts save lives,” said Colonel Winford E. Phillips, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety representative. “Unfortunately too many people need a reminder and that’s why city, county and state law enforcement officers will be working overtime this Thanksgiving with a strong Click It or Ticket mobilization effort to help save more lives.” During the 2006 Thanksgiving reporting period, 457 passenger vehicle occupants died in traffic crashes across the country. This includes 188 fatalities during daylight hours and 266 during nighttime (three deaths were unknown regarding time). In Arkansas, during the same reporting period, five of the seven people killed were not using vehicle safety restraints. Nighttime is one of the more dangerous travel periods. Statistical records indicate safety belt use tends to be lower during these periods. Nationally, more than half (138) of the 266 night time Thanksgiving passenger vehicle occupant fatality victims during 2006 were not wearing a safety belt at the time of the vehicle crash. Less than half of the day time fatality victims were not wearing safety belts. “Losing a loved one is a terrible experience, especially during America’s family holiday. But losing a loved one who’s life may have been saved had they been using a safety belt is truly a senseless tragedy,” Colonel Phillips said. Regular safety belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Research has shown that when lap and shoulder belts are used properly, the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers is reduced by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent. “If you fail to buckle-up during this holiday period, you run the risk of getting a ticket, or worse, getting killed or injured,” Phillips warned. For more information about highway safety during Thanksgiving, please visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8133. FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ann Whitehead, Arkansas State Police – Highway Safety Office, (501) 618-8133, ann.whitehead@asp.arkansas.gov