Safety first, turkey second

By Portia Williams

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With turkey and family in mind, motorists will hit the highways this week in hopes of spending time with family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday. State highway officials from the State of Kentucky and Ohio advise motorists to implement safe practices when travelling.

According to the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS), Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year, with a substantial increase in the likelihood of crashes. KOHS is reminding motorists to buckle up and is putting a special emphasis on those traveling in pickup trucks. Mike Hancock, Kentucky Transportation Secretary, said most pick up truck occupants fail to utilize their seat belts.

“The best chance for surviving a crash is to wear your seat belt,” Hancock said. “However, the data indicate that a majority of pickup truck occupants do not buckle up, so we’re asking them to always remember to ‘Buckle Up in Your Truck.’”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belt use in pickup trucks is lower than in any other type of passenger vehicle on the road. Unfortunately, Kentucky follows the national trend.

Sergeant David Stuart of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Post in Portsmouth, Ohio said motorists should abstain from distracted driving during the busy holiday season, and always.

“Always wear your seatbelts. Seatbelts have been known to save lives in injuries and crashes. Motorists need to make sure they take essential things to protect their families and friends during their travel times,” Stuart said. “Also, be mindful of texting and driving, all distracted driving, and impaired driving during the holiday. Especially with the younger drivers, we are noticing a pattern of distracted driving, which is alarming to us. We can do as much as we can to get into the schools and talk to the students about it, and encourage them to put that cellphone down while they are driving, to put it on mute, or whatever you have to do. If you have to take that call, then pull over to a safe place on the side of the road, or a parking lot to take the call.”

For those who plan to consume alcohol, Stuart said make preparations so that drinking and driving is not an option.

“Of course with impaired driving, if you plan on going out and celebrating with spirits during the holidays, definitely make sure that you get a designated driver or have a safe place to stay that is located near the place that you go out to,” he said.

Officials from KOHS said surviving your Thanksgiving drive this year – and making it to next Thanksgiving – can be as simple as buckling up.

Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.

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