If it feels like there are more eyes on you as you drive around Southwest Florida this week, you're right. All area law enforcement agencies in Lee, Charlotte and Collier Counties are using the increase in holiday road traffic surrounding Thanksgiving to ramp up their enforcement of wearing seatbelts. The statewide campaign is part of the Click It or Ticket program, originated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
With so many more cars, trucks and motorcycles on the roads around the holiday week, cops say it's the ideal time to step up their efforts to make drivers and passengers aware that wearing your seatbelt is a primary offense, which means you can get a $133.00 ticket for not being buckled up. And if your child is not properly restrained in an appropriate child restraint seat, you'll get a $163.00 ticket for that offense.
According to an article on floridatoday.com, the week surrounding Thanksgiving is one of the busiest on local roads and highways. Historically, the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving is the day most people hit the road, and that just means more people to target for not wearing their seat belts. You can expect very heavy traffic patterns starting from around 2:00 pm Wednesday, as people start making their way to the store to grab that last turkey dinner item, and head out to visit family or friends for Thanksgiving, either by car or because they're going to the airport to catch a flight.
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According to estimates provided by the National Safety Council, a projected 436 people nationwide will die in traffic crashes from 6:00 pm on Wednesday before Thanksgiving and midnight on Sunday, December 1st. They also say that 158 fewer people will lose their lives if they were to buckle up.
Here are some more details about seat belt safety:
- The driver and front-seat passenger must wear a seat belt.
- Anyone younger than 18 must wear a seat belt no matter where they are sitting.
- Children 12 and younger should ride in the back seat for safety.
- Children from birth to 80 pounds and 4 feet 9 inches tall should ride either in a car seat or a booster seat, depending on their age.
The personal injury attorneys at Goldberg, Racila, D'Alessandro & Noone remind you to please use extra caution if you are travelling for the Thanksgiving holiday. The stress of getting to your destination on time, coupled with the additional traffic on the road, can mean an increased risk of being involved in a serious car crash. Also, cell phone use – both texting and talking – along with speeding are thought to be additional factors that will lead to accidents over the busy holiday travel week.
Please allow yourself extra time to get where you're going, leave the phone alone and drive defensively, keeping an eye out for speeders and other aggressive driving habits.