LEONARDTOWN, Md. (Nov. 23, 2009)—Police and safety officials in St. Mary's County plan a special crackdown this Thanksgiving for people who refuse to buckle their seat belts and make the choice to drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs during this Thanksgiving weekend.
The campaigns, known as Click it or Ticket and Checkpoint Strikeforce - Drunk Driving; Over the Limit, Under Arrest, will run throughout the Thanksgiving holiday week, starting Tuesday, November 24, 2009 and running through Sunday, November 29, 2009, announced law enforcement agencies in St. Mary's County.
"If you are planning to travel by car to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends, make sure you and everyone riding with you buckles your seat belts," said Sheriff Tim Cameron, St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office.
"Whether you're traveling across town, or across the state, if you or anyone in your vehicle is unbelted you run the risk of getting a little holiday present from the police," said Lt. Michael Thompson, Barrack Commander, Maryland State Police, Leonardtown. "And making the choice to drive impaired will result in arrest."
According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 25,000 passenger vehicle occupants (drivers and passengers) died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2008 across the nation, and just over half, 12,865, were not wearing seat belts. Nationally, during the Thanksgiving holiday period in 2008, which ran from 6 p.m., Wednesday, November 26, to 5:59 a.m., Monday, December 1, 389 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes including 156 from crashes occurring during daylight hours (6 a.m. to 5:59 p.m.) and 231 from crashes during nighttime (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.). Two people died in crashes during unrecorded time periods.
Nationally, nighttime is the worst for seat belt use, according to NHTSA statistics. Of the 231 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities from crashes occurring at night during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2008, 67 percent had unfastened seat belts (based on known restraint use); while 40 percent of the fatalities from daytime crashes were not wearing seat belts.
Additionally, the holiday season can be one of the deadliest and most dangerous times of the year due to an increase in impaired driving. Impaired drivers are a danger on our County's roadways and have claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people in the State of Maryland since 1998.
There has been an increase in partnerships over the past years to address and raise awareness to prevent impaired driving. Check with bartenders when needed about the Tipsy Taxi or other sober ride programs. Military personnel should contact the duty officer or barrack staff if a sober ride is needed.