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NHTSA 36-13
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Contact: Kathryn Henry, 202-366-9550, Public.Affairs@dot.gov


WASHINGTON – The long Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel times of the year, which increases the risk of being involved in a serious or deadly car crash. As families and friends prepare to gather to give thanks this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reminds travelers to make safety a priority, especially in inclement weather, by always wearing a seat belt, never driving drunk and avoiding distraction.

In 2012, 416 motorists died in traffic crashes during the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend. According to NHTSA data, 60 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants killed were not wearing their seat belts and 42 percent were killed in crashes that involved a drunk driver who had a blood alcohol content of .08 BAC or higher (see note below).

To help travelers stay safe, NHTSA recommends the following precautions:

  • Buckle seat belts - All drivers and passengers should wear seat belts every time when traveling in a vehicle. Wearing a seat belt is one of the best defenses to prevent injury and death in a crash.
  • Protect child passengers - If you're traveling with children, remember the best way to protect them in the car is to put them in the right child safety seat, and use it the right way. All children 13 and younger should ride in the back seat.
  • Don't drink and drive - Every 45 minutes someone in the United States dies in an alcohol-impaired-driving crash. Be responsible and don't drink and drive. If you plan to drink, choose a designated driver before going out.
  • Avoid Distraction - According to NHTSA data from 2012, 10 percent of fatal crashes and 18 percent of injury crashes were distraction-related. Distracted driving can be anything that pulls your attention away from driving, including cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, and using in-vehicle technologies and portable electronic devices.
  • Avoid the "No Zone" – The area around large trucks and buses where crashes are more likely to occur. It is critical that all motorists share the road safely with large trucks and buses by giving them plenty of space to maneuver. Avoid lingering in blind spots where you can't be seen, following too closely or making sudden or erratic lane changes. Safety, literally, is in the hands of every driver.
  • Additional Safety Tips – Weather-related crashes accounted for 4 percent of fatalities on Thanksgiving last year. Motorists can cruise NHTSA's interactive safety landscape to reveal tips and friendly reminders on winter driving measures to get to their destination safely.

Motorists are also forewarned that during the Thanking travel period some parts of the country will have increased law enforcement presence to address pressing safety issues. The following states – Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia will be conducting Click It or Ticket seatbelt crackdowns. In addition, motorists traveling along the Interstate 40 corridor can expect a large law enforcement presence every 20 miles as part of the More Cops. More Stops. high-visibility enforcement period. Highway patrols in Arizona, Arkansas, California New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Utah will be participating to ensure motorists are driving sober, wearing their seat belts and not distracted behind the wheel.

Note: NHTSA defines the Thanksgiving Holiday as 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27, to 5:59 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 2.

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