Arkansas State Troopers are joining forces with other state and local law enforcement officers during the Thanksgiving holiday season in a crackdown on seat belt law violations.
The Thanksgiving holiday is typically one of the busiest travel periods, both in Arkansas and across the nation.
Traffic crash statistics from 2011, which represent the latest data set currently available, indicate there were 249 passenger vehicle occupant deaths nationally during the Thanksgiving reporting period. Fifty percent of those killed were not wearing seat belts. In Arkansas, during the holiday reporting period, three people lost their lives and 241 people were seriously injured.
“You will see our State Troopers out in force beginning November 25, and we’ll be showing zero tolerance for anyone who is not wearing a seat belt,” said Colonel Stan Witt, Director of the Arkansas State Police and Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Our goal is simple. We’ll strictly enforce the law in order to save more lives. If you are caught not wearing your seat belt, you can expect to be ticketed.”
An intensified enforcement emphasis will be noticed along Interstate 40 during the most heavily traveled hours of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“The Arkansas State Police will partner with several other states including Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas in an additional enforcement effort designed to protect motorists along the I-40 corridor,” Colonel Witt remarked. Each state plans to assign a trooper to every 20 mile segment of Interstate 40 during peak traffic hours.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts saved almost 12,000 lives nationwide in 2011.
Research indicates that with proper seat belt use, the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent.
Despite the law that requires the use of seat belts and the proven safety benefits, too many people are failing to get the message. In 2011, 52 percent of the 21,253 passenger vehicle occupants killed in motor vehicle crashes did not wear seat belts at the time of the crash.
“Buckling up is a proven life saver, but it’s often forgotten during rush of holiday travel,” said Colonel Witt. “Whether you’re driving across the country or just across town, buckling up is one of the best ways to ensure that you arrive safely at your destination. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a traffic ticket to get people to pay attention to this very simple message.”