The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel times of the year. Millions of Americans hit the roads to spend time with family and friends. Unfortunately, more vehicles on the road means the potential for more dangerous roads, and it’s as important as ever that everyone is buckled up. To make sure the message reaches all area drivers and passengers, the DeFuniak Springs Police Department will be joining other state and local law enforcement agencies to participate in the United States Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) high-visibility seat belt enforcement campaign Click It or Ticket. The no-excuses, zero-tolerance crackdown combines powerful messages about seat belt safety, with increased patrols day and night, targeting all unbuckled motorists—those who still aren’t getting the point.
“The statistics are really troubling,” said City Marshal, Chief Mark A. Weeks. “Almost half of the passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes are not wearing their seat belts. And during this busy time on our roads, we see way too many preventable fatalities in crashes.” During the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday period (6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 27, to 5:59 a.m. on Monday, December 2), there were 301 passenger vehicle occupants killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationwide. Fifty-eight percent of those killed were NOT wearing seat belts.
These tragic crashes could have turned out differently. NHTSA research indicates 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, seat belts saved the lives of 12,584 passenger vehicle occupants. If seat belt use had been at 100 percent, an additional 2,800 people would still be alive this Thanksgiving.
“We want people to know that we’re serious about this campaign, because we see the devastation first-hand when people fail to buckle up in a crash,” said Chief Weeks. “If we see you without your seat belt, we aren’t going to be asking any questions or giving out warnings. You WILL get fined up to $161.00.”
In DeFuniak Springs, Walton County, Florida, In accordance with F.S.S. 316.614, all drivers and front seat passengers must use seat belts when the vehicle is in motion. In addition, all persons under 18 years old are required to be restrained by a seat belt or child restraint device.
“Whether you’re driving to the grocery store, a friend’s house a mile away, or your grandparents’ house across the country,” Chief Weeks added, “please buckle up this Thanksgiving, and every time you’re on the road.” Drivers who fail to heed the warning are taking too big a risk - a hefty fine or worse: dying in a crash.
It only takes a second to buckle up, and isn’t that easier than getting pulled over and ticketed? With the help of highway safety advocates and local law enforcement officers across the country, we can increase seat belt use and save lives on our roadways this Thanksgiving.
Remember: Click It or Ticket. You have a lot to lose otherwise.
For more information about traveling safely during Thanksgiving, please visit www.nhtsa.gov.