Thanksgiving among top holidays for crash deaths

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 27, 2013

BATON ROUGE – The long Thanksgiving break in 2012 experienced more highway crash deaths in Louisiana than any other holiday period. In 2013, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is coordinating a statewide “Click It or Ticket” campaign over the Thanksgiving holiday aimed at saving lives by getting more motorists to buckle up.
Thirteen people were killed and 666 were injured in Louisiana highway crashes over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday last year. The four-day Memorial Day holiday ranked second with 11 killed and the five-day Mardi Gras break ranked third with 10 killed. Fatal and injury crashes are high during Thanksgiving because it ranks among the longest and most heavily traveled holidays. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that about 90 percent of Thanksgiving travel is by motor vehicle. The number of long-distance vehicle trips jumps by more than 50 percent during the holiday.
“Your chance of surviving a crash is greatly increased if you are buckled up,” said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. “The few seconds it takes to fasten your seat belt can save your life or reduce the severity of injuries that could impact your quality of life for many years following a crash. Louisiana law requires drivers and passengers, both in front and rear seats, to wear their seat belts while a vehicle is in motion.”
The Commission has provided grants to 52 local law enforcement agencies and State Police to participate in this year›s Thanksgiving Click It or Ticket campaign, which runs from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1. Local agencies use the grant money to conduct additional overtime patrols and checkpoints during the holiday period.
Click It or Ticket campaigns have been highly effective in convincing motorists to buckle up. Louisiana ‘s seat belt use by front-seat occupants has increased by 14 percentage points since the first Click It or Ticket campaign was conducted in 2003. An observational survey conducted this year showed that 82.5 percent of front-seat occupants were buckled up. Research has shown that when seat belts are used properly the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers in automobiles is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent.