Don’t be a turkey this Thanksgiving, buckle up

   Highway travel during the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday week is expected to be heavy as families pile into their cars and head off for holiday destinations. 
   But there’s one sure recipe that can turn a joyful holiday into a tragedy: failure to buckle up.
   “Seat belts are the single most important safety device in your vehicle and they have saved countless lives and prevented untold numbers of injuries over the years,” said Jackie Bonser, Local Buckle Up Montana Coordinator from the Pondera County Health Department. 
   She went on to add, “I urge everyone driving this holiday to drive carefully, don’t drive impaired and, most important, buckle up each and every trip, night or day.”
   Nationally during the Thanksgiving holiday period in 2008 (which ran from 6 p.m.  Nov. 26, to 5:59 a.m., Dec. 1), 389 passenger vehicle occupants died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, including 156 during daylight hours (6 a.m. to 5:59 p.m.) and 231 during nighttime (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.).  Two fatalities were unknown regarding time.
   Nighttime is the most dangerous time on the road because seat belt use is lower.  Of the 231 passenger vehicle occupant deaths in motor vehicle traffic crashes at night during the 2008 Thanksgiving holiday period over two-thirds (67 percent) did not have their seat belts fastened; while 40 percent of fatalities in daytime crashes were not wearing seat belts.
   According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes. 
   Research has shown that when lap and shoulder belts are used properly, the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent.
   For more information about highway safety during Thanksgiving, please visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov