Historically the busiest travel time of the year, Thanksgiving means more people are on the road – increasing the likelihood of crashes.
There are some simple tips to minimize dangers, including avoiding the highways on the Wednesday before turkey day and the following Sunday.
But according to safety advocates, the single most important thing travelers can do to stay safe: buckle up. Travel Safety
According to recent data, each year in our country, tens of thousands of passenger vehicle occupants die in motor vehicle crashes. In 2013, more than 300 people were killed in crashes on Thanksgiving weekend alone. It’s a sad statistic, but even more tragic: many of those deaths could have been prevented with one simple click of a seat belt.
The United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (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 2013, approximately 12,584 people survived crashes because they were buckled up. If everyone had worn their seat belts that year, an additional 2,800 lives could have been saved.
More than half the drivers and passengers being killed in crashes aren’t wearing seat belts – and that’s a serious problem. In 2013, a total of 21,132 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in crashes, and almost half (49%) of those occupants were not buckled up. Thanksgiving weekend in 2013 (6 p.m. Wednesday, November 27, to 5:59 a.m. Monday, December 2), a disturbing 58 percent—that is, nearly 6 out of 10—of the passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts. At night, the statistic was even worse: 64 percent of the occupants killed at night were unbuckled.
Younger drivers are the most likely to be unbuckled in a fatal crash. In 2013, among passenger vehicle occupant fatalities where restraint use was known, the age groups 21 to 24 and 25 to 34 had the highest percentage (55%) of occupants killed who were unrestrained.
NHTSA data also reveals that males are more likely to be unbuckled than females in a fatal crash. Fifty-four percent of the males killed in crashes in 2013 were not buckled up, as compared to 41 percent for females. Right now, the overall seat belt use rate in the United States is 87 percent, which is a major increase over the 79-percent use rate in 2003, but there is still a lot of room for further gains.
The message here is crystal clear: Buckle up America. Every Trip. Every Time.
For more information about traveling safely during the Thanksgiving holiday, visit www.nhtsa.gov.