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LAW ENFORCEMENT URGE MOTORISTS:  BUCKLE-UP, DAY AND NIGHT FOR THANKSGIVING TRAVEL

November 15, 2011 LITTLE ROCK) – The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office is reminding Thanksgiving travelers to remember the rules of the road during the upcoming holiday. A “Click It or Ticket” campaign across Arkansas is part of a national effort to prevent tragedies and save lives on the highways November 21 – 27. State and local law enforcement agencies will be working together and extending their patrol hours to remind motorists to buckle-up, especially during this holiday traffic period. During last year’s Thanksgiving travel period in Arkansas, seven people lost their lives and 254 were injured as the result of traffic crashes. “As our roadways become more congested over the Thanksgiving holiday, buckling-up, both day and night, becomes even more important and may mean the difference between a tragedy and a happy holiday,” said Colonel JR Howard, Director of the Arkansas State Police and Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 23,000 passenger vehicle occupants died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2009 across the nation, and almost half weren’t wearing seat belts. Nationally, during the Thanksgiving holiday period in 2009, the latest data set available, (which ran from 6 p.m., Wednesday, November 25, to 5:59 a.m., Monday, November 30), 303 passenger vehicle occupants died in traffic crashes. Nighttime is the worst for seat belt use according to national statistics collected by NHTSA. More than half of the 187 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities occurring at night during the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday reporting period involved individuals who were not fastened in their seat belts, based on investigation of safety restraint use. Comparatively 49 percent of the fatalities during daylight hours were not wearing seat belts. “Motorist safety and protection is always a top priority,” said Colonel Howard. “That’s why this Thanksgiving there will be police officers around the state working overtime, day and night, to ensure that motorists abide by the law to buckle-up.” Regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes, according to NHTSA. 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 the Thanksgiving Click It or Ticket campaign, please visit www.TrafficSafetyMarketing.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.