TAVARES — The Lake County Community Traffic Safety Team (CTST) and local law enforcement agencies are joining together in a national effort to reach out to all Thanksgiving travelers with one important message: buckle up.
“Historically, Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year, putting more people on the road, and unfortunately increasing the likelihood of crashes,” said Noble Olasimbo, chairman of the CTST. “In 2013, more than 300 people were killed in crashes on Thanksgiving weekend alone. It’s a sad statistic, but even more sad is that 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.”
That’s precisely the point of the NHTSA’s national seat belt campaign: “Buckle Up America – Every Trip, Every Time.”
“More than half the drivers and passengers being killed in crashes aren’t wearing seat belts and that’s a major problem,” said Sgt. Michael Marden of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, a member of the CTST. “During Thanksgiving weekend in 2013, 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.”
NHTSA data also reveals that males are more likely to be unbuckled than females in a fatal crash. 54 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 an increase over the 79 percent use rate in 2003, but there is still room for further gains.
“This campaign serves as a reminder to everyone,” said Olasimbo. “For those that buckle up every time, thank you. For those people who still don’t, they should be aware that buckling up is one of the simplest, safest things they can do.”
For more information about traveling safely during Thanksgiving, visit www.nhtsa.gov.