CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Governor’s Road Safety Program (GHSP) partners with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to make sure you show up to the table for Thanksgiving.
Because Thanksgiving Day is one of the busiest in America, more drivers will be on the roads than usual, increasing the likelihood of a car crash. As the holiday season kicks off, it’s more important than ever to stress the importance of seat belt safety with this essential reminder: Buckle up. Every trip. Everytime.
With more families and friends reunited this year after the cancellation of many such events last year, the GHSP is also reminding everyone:
Over Thanksgiving weekend 2019 (6 p.m. Wednesday, November 27 to 5:59 a.m. Monday, December 2), 279 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in traffic crashes across the country. More than half (54%) were not attached. The night proved to be even more deadly, with 52% of Thanksgiving weekend crashes occurring at night. These deaths represent unnecessary tragedies for families across America and may have been avoided with the click of a seat belt.
“As group gathering restrictions have eased, we expect more traffic on West Virginia roads during the upcoming vacation. Whether you’re driving 10 minutes to the Thanksgiving dinner table or 10 a.m., it’s critical that drivers and passengers use their seat belts, and that includes kids in the right car seats. No one expects to be in an accident, but if so, wearing your seat belt is the only thing you can do to help prevent fatalities and injuries, ”said Bob Tipton, Director of the GHSP.
“Plus, impaired driving is a real threat to our communities. Drug and alcohol impaired drivers are a dangerous problem that increases during holidays like Thanksgiving. Driving under the influence is deadly and illegal, and no one should ever take the risk, ”Tipton continued.
Drunk driving accidents increase during the Thanksgiving holiday season. According to the NHTSA, from 2015 to 2019, 135 drivers involved in fatal crashes the day before Thanksgiving (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) were intoxicated and throughout the holiday period (6 p.m. on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving until at 5:59 a.m.). the Monday following Thanksgiving), nearly 800 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes. In fact, during the Thanksgiving 2019 holiday season, more than four times as many drivers involved in fatal crashes were drunk at night than during the day.
Remember: in West Virginia, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. If you are under the influence of a harmful substance, give the keys to a sober friend instead of driving home yourself.
If you plan to go out to the bar or to parties during the Thanksgiving vacation, be sure to plan for a sober homecoming. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a safe night out.
• Remember that it is never okay to drive while intoxicated. Even if you’ve only had one alcoholic drink, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transit or a transportation service to get home safely.
• If available, use your community’s sober driving program.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.
• Do you have a friend who is about to drive drunk? Take the keys with you and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
For more information on Safe Thanksgiving Travel, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/seat-belts. To learn more about impaired driving issues, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving.
For more information on the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit www.dmv.wv.gov/ghsp or call 304-926-2509.