Drive safe this Thanksgiving and buckle up

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel times of the year, with more people on the road increasing likelihood of crashes. The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) encourages everyone to drive safe and buckle up.

"More than half the drivers and passengers being killed in crashes aren't wearing seat belts," said Sherry Jenkins, with ITD. "That's a problem. Wearing a seat belt is the single most important thing anyone can do to protect themselves in the event of a motor-vehicle crash."

ITD's Office of Highway Safety estimates that wearing a seat belt saved 54 lives on state roadways in 2014. An additional 34 lives could have been saved if everyone had been buckled up.

The United States Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that proper seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers by nearly half, and the risk of moderate to serious injury by 50 percent.

Nationwide, younger drivers, ages 21 to 34, are the most likely to be unbuckled in a fatal crash. In 2013, young drivers showed the highest percentage (55 percent) of occupants killed who were unrestrained.

NHTSA data also reveals that males are more likely to be unbuckled than females in a fatal crash. Fifty-four percent of the males killed in crashes in 2013 were not buckled up, as compared to 41 percent for females.

"For those people who already buckle up every time: Thank you," said Jenkins. "For them, this campaign serves as a reminder. But for those people, who still don't buckle up for whatever reason, remember that buckling a seat belt is one of the simplest and safest things you'll ever do. It can save your life."

Published 11-13-15