OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla._The Oklahoma High Patrol is reaching out to all Thanksgiving travelers to buckle up.
OHP says historically, Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year. Those busy roadways also means the likelihood of crashes increases. Each year, tens of thousands of people die in vehicle crashes. In 2013, more than 300 people were killed in vehicle crashes in the U.S. on Thanksgiving weekend alone.
"More than half the drivers and passengers being killed in crashes aren't wearing seat belts. That's a major problem," said Toby Taylor, Interim Director of the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.
In 2013, a total of 21,132 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in crashes, and almost half (49 percent) of those occupants were not buckled up. Thanksgiving weekend in 2013 (6 p.m. Wednesday, November 27, to 5:59 a.m. Monday, December 2), 58 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts. At night, the statistic was even worse; 64 percent of the occupants killed at night were unbuckled.
OHP says younger drivers are the most likely to be unbuckled in a fatal crash. In 2013, people between the ages of 21 and 34 made up 55 percent of occupants who were killed while unrestrained.
"For those people who already buckle up every time: Thank you," said Taylor. "For them, this campaign serves as a reminder. But for those people who still don't buckle up for whatever reason, I want to say this: buckling your seat belt is one of the simplest, safest things you'll ever do."