Richland Public Health urges Thanksgiving travelers to ‘buckle up’


Richland Public Health and the Richland County Safe Communities Coalition are joining in a national effort to reach out to all Thanksgiving travelers with one important message: buckle up.

Locally, the seat belt use campaign known as Click It or Ticket will involve all Richland County law enforcement.

Every year, the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel times. 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.

“The statistics are troubling,” said Reed Richmond, Health Educator at Richland Public Health and a Richland County Safe Communities Coalition spokesperson. “Almost half of the passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes are not wearing their seat belts.

And during this busy time on our highways, we see too many preventable fatalities in crashes.” According to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 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, 58 percent of those killed were not wearing seat belts.

It’s a sad statistic, but even sadder is that many of those deaths could have been prevented with one simple click of a seat belt. At night, the numbers are even more disturbing. During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2013, law enforcement noted that 64 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants killed at night were unrestrained, as compared to 48 percent during the day.

In 2013, NHTSA estimates that 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. “Whether you’re driving to the grocery store, a friend’s house a mile away, or your grandparents’ house across the country,” Richmond 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.

In 2014 seat belt use nationally was at 87 percent. In Ohio, the numbers, based on seat belt surveys conducted in the summer of 2015, have dropped slightly back to 85 percent and in Richland County seat belt use results are at 84 percent. The Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign aims to reach that remaining unbuckled percentage: the ones who think that a crash will never happen to them.

“For those people who already buckle up every time: Thank you,” said Richmond. “For them, this campaign serves as a reminder. But for those 16 percent in Richland County who still don’t buckle up for whatever reason, the Richland County Safe Communities Coalition is saying this: ‘Buckling your seat belt is one of the simplest, safest things you’ll ever do’.”

For more information about traveling safely during Thanksgiving, please visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.

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