Midwest Law Enforcement Agencies Warn Motorists to Buckle Up, Slow Down and Drive Sober This Thanksgiving Holiday
New Data Shows High Number of Rural Traffic Fatalities
Chicago, IL (11/21/05) – Law enforcement leaders from throughout the Midwest met in Chicago today to announce a six-state safety belt mobilization being conducted throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The announcement comes on the heels of data released by the National Highway Traffic Administration that shows an alarming number of motor vehicle crash fatalities are occurring on rural roads.
"Police agencies throughout the Midwest are joining together this Thanksgiving holiday with one simple goal – saving lives on our roadways," said Larry Trent, director of the Illinois State Police. "We want all motorists traveling within our respective states to arrive at their destinations safely. Issuing tickets is never a pleasant experience, however, having to notify next of kin following a fatal crash is by far a worse scenario," said Trent.
"State Police from throughout the Midwest states will cracking down on unbuckled motorists while placing a special emphasis on rural roadways. "We are disturbed by data that shows large numbers of motorists dying on rural roadways because they are failing to buckle their safety belt, he continued." Rural traffic fatalities account for 60 percent of the total fatalities on the nation's roadways. "Similarly, rural motor vehicle fatalities in the six Midwest states account for approximately two-thirds of the total traffic fatalities. Even more alarming, according to fatality rates a motorist is more that twice is likely to die on rural road than an urban road," according to Don McNamara, Administrator for NHTSA's Great Lakes Region.
"While several factors contribute to high fatality rates in rural areas including excessive speed and alcohol use, low safety belt use appears to be the main reason for the disproportionately high death rate," McNamara continued. "That's why NHTSA is supporting this multi-state initiative and encouraging motorist to buckle up every trip, every time," he said.
Safety belt use remains the single most effective act a person can do to protect themselves and their children in a motor vehicle crash. "Studies have shown safety belts reduce the risk of death in a motor vehicle crash. In 2003, 73 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were in a fatal crash and who were restrained lived," according to Major Thomas Mellville with the Indiana State Police and Regional Chairman of Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort). "Of those who were not restrained, only 26 percent survived," he added.
"Motorists who drive at excessive speed will be ticketed during this crackdown, no exceptions. Anyone driving impaired will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Mellville continued. "This can mean heavy fines, losing a license, losing a vehicle, or jail depending on how many previous offenses the driver has had," he concluded.
State Police from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin are participating in the holiday mobilization. The crackdown will run from Wednesday, November 23 through Sunday, November 27.