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November 18, 2016

Additional Information Contact:
ASP Highway Safety Office – Ann Whitehead
(501) 618-8133 – ann.whitehead@asp.arkansas.gov

    (LITTLE ROCK) – Arkansans are expected to get an early start on their Thanksgiving holiday travel plans.  Beginning Monday (November 21st), Arkansas State Troopers will team-up with law enforcement officers from local and state agencies to make sure drivers are obeying the rules of the road, but with an emphasis aimed at violators ignoring the Arkansas primary seat belt law.

   Arkansas troopers will also join their fellow troopers from California to North Carolina along Interstate 40 creating a chain of law enforcement presence every twenty miles across the heavily traveled interstate corridor.  The intensified patrols along I-40 will begin Wednesday (November 23rd, between 11 AM and 11 PM) and again on Sunday (November 27th, between 9 AM and 9 PM).

   “The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest times for travel across the nation,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “Our troopers along with other law enforcement officers will be working overtime to ensure the highways and streets are safe by strictly enforcing traffic laws, in particular the seat belt and child passenger safety laws.”

   Thanksgiving holiday travel on the nation’s roads and highways is typically one of the most dangerous and deadliest.  During the 2014 Thanksgiving holiday period (6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 26, to 5:59 a.m. on Monday, December 1), there were 341 passenger vehicle occupants killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationwide, and fifty percent of those killed were not wearing seat belts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

   “The numbers tell the story.  Buckling up saves lives,” Colonel Bryant stated.  “Whether you’re driving across the state or across town, wearing your seat belt is one of the best ways to ensure you arrive at your destination safely.”

   NHTSA also reports that regular safety 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 passengers is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent.

   Arkansas state law requires all front seat passengers, not just drivers, to be buckled up. It requires all children under fifteen years of age to be properly secured in the vehicle.  A child who is less than six years of age and who weighs less than sixty pounds should be restrained in a child passenger safety seat. If the driver has a restricted license, all passengers in the vehicle must be properly buckled-up.

   The Arkansas State Police encourage motorists to practice safe driving habits every day, not just during the holidays.  It begins with buckling-up before leaving the driveway.

   For more information about highway safety during Thanksgiving, please visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDArkansas.org.