Buckle Up Before Getting on the Road this Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Period

Law enforcement warning everyone to buckle up whether traveling near or far
(ATLANTA) While the COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed regular travel plans for many Georgia families, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and law enforcement statewide are still reminding all motorists to make sure they and their passengers are buckled up safely whether they’re traveling near or far.

During the holiday travel period, law enforcement will be paying extra attention to seat belt use in an effort to keep motorists and their passengers as safe as possible as part of the nationwide “Click It or Ticket” effort. As always, they’ll also be on the lookout for drunk, distracted and speeding drivers who put themselves and other motorists in further danger.

Why is it so important? Because according to the Georgia State Patrol, 12 people were killed in traffic crashes in Georgia during the 2019 Thanksgiving weekend, which ran from 6:00 pm. on Wednesday, November 27 through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, November 30.

“Even though the pandemic is expected to reduce the number of people traveling during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we all need to practice safety first by making sure everyone in our vehicles, especially small children, are properly retrained by a seat belt or child safety seat,” GOHS Director Allen Poole said. “We hope no one is ever involved in a traffic crash, but a seat belt offers you and everyone in your vehicle the best protection in the event you are in a crash.”

In addition to the 12 traffic fatalities during last year’s Thanksgiving travel period in Georgia, the Department of Public Safety alone (Georgia State Patrol, Capitol Police and MCCD) issued 11,375 citations, 16,259 warnings and arrested 325 people for driving under the influence. The best defense against all those careless drivers is a buckled seat belt.

“More than 40 percent of the people killed in traffic crashes in Georgia last year were not wearing a seat belt and many of those who perished would be celebrating Thanksgiving 2020 with us if they had buckled their seat belt,” Director Poole said. “We want everyone to enjoy their holiday and get home safe. One way to help make that happen is to take two seconds to click that seat belt.”

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 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 2017, approximately 14,995 people survived crashes nationwide because they were buckled up and an additional 2,549 lives might’ve been saved if they were buckled. Among those deaths, males and drivers 21-34 were the most likely to be unbuckled.

Law enforcement is also reminding everyone to make sure they make it to the dinner table by not drinking and driving.  According to NHTSA, there have been more alcohol-related fatal crashes surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday weekend than any other holiday period during the year. Those who are planning to include alcohol during the extended holiday weekend are reminded to not get behind the wheel and make plans to pass the keys to a sober driver.

The good news is all motorists can use the following tips to stay safe, focused, sober and patient while traveling:

  • Plan ahead for a sober ride. Arrange for a designated driver, use a rideshare service or program the numbers for cab companies into your phone.
  • Don’t try to make up time by speeding. Leave for your destination earlier than needed to allow for increased travel time.
  • Make sure everyone in your vehicle is wearing their seat belt and all children under 8 are riding in an approved child passenger safety seat or booster seat.
  • Limit driver distractions by staying off phones. Program GPS before you get on the road or have a passenger be in charge of navigation.
  • Take breaks to avoid drowsy driving: Plan rest stops as needed and alternate drivers if possible.
For more information on the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety’s (GOHS) seat belt and impaired driving awareness programs, visit https://www.gahighwaysafety.org.  Follow GOHS on social media at www.facebook.com/gahighwayafety, @gohsgeorgia on Twitter and Instagram, GOHSGEORGIA on YouTube or click the social media links below.