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PennDOT says buckle up for Thanksgiving

PennDOT has announced that police departments in Pennsylvania will be participating in a Thanksgiving seat belt campaign in an effort to increase nighttime seat belt use.
A press release from PennDOT’s District Nine noted that although seat belt usage rates are at an all-time high (86 percent) in the state, more unbuckled fatalities are happening during nighttime hours.
More than 350 police departments across the state will conduct traffic safety checkpoints and roving patrols from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. as part of a Thanksgiving holiday mobilization. The enforcement period began Monday and will run through Sunday.
As part of the effort, any motorist cited for a moving violation and not wearing a seat belt will receive a second ticket as part of the “Click It or Ticket” program.
“I encourage all motorists to act responsibly by buckling up and avoiding such reckless behaviors as speeding and drinking and driving,” Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E., said in a release from PennDOT’s Harrisburg office. “My wish is for everyone to have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday, enjoying time with family and friends.”
The program is part of a nationwide campaign to increase seat belt use to 90 percent by 2008. PennDOT noted that for every percentage point that the national seat belt use rate increases, three million new people buckle up and 250 lives are saved.
Last year, PennDOT spent about $5 million on enforcement and education related to the seat belt law.
According to PennDOT, local and state police investigated 2,592 crashes during the week of the 2005 Thanksgiving holiday. In those crashes, 30 people lost their lives, including 10 in alcohol-related accidents and 14 who were not wearing their seat belt.
PennDOT also advised the millions of motorists who will travel over Thanksgiving to prepare by making sure they are well-rested and alert. Secretary Biehler added that during long trips, it is a good idea to rotate drivers and take frequent breaks.
PennDOT advised that motorists should stay alert for changing weather and road conditions, which can deteriorate rapidly at this time of year. They also advised motorists should check the forecast before traveling and make sure that their vehicles are ready for whatever weather conditions they may face.
This year, motorists in Pennsylvania should catch a break regarding weather conditions. Forecasts in the state are calling for high temperatures in the 40s and 50s for the holiday traveling period. Rain and snow possibilities are minimal in the western part of the state throughout the forecast period. Parts of eastern Pennsylvania are likely to have rain on Thanksgiving day.
PennDOT offered the following safe driving tips:
• Never drink and drive;
• Always wear a seat belt;
• Pay full attention to the road — avoid distractions such as cell phones;
• Always use the proper turn signals; and
• On multi-lane highways, travel in the right lane except when passing.
There is one additional holiday reminder regarding PennDOT. All of its driver license and photo centers, including its full-service center in Harrisburg will be closed Thursday and Friday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services Web Site: www.dmv.state.pa.us.