Buckle up this Thanksgiving weekend

Thanksgiving weekend is a time when many Americans are traveling to visit family and friends, and it is also when state and local police departments step up enforcement on seat belt safety.

“Law enforcement officials are out on Connecticut’s roads enforcing the state’s occupant protection laws and issuing citations to those who are unbuckled,” said Capt. Robert Cipolla, spokesman for the Wilton Police Department.

During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2015, two years ago, the latest date for which data was available, 301 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in traffic crashes across the nation, according to the Transportation Safety Board.

Young people continue to be overrepresented in fatal crashes and where seat belts were not used.  Among the passengers killed in crashes in 2015, 13- to 15-year-olds and 18- to 34-year-olds were unbuckled at rates of 57% and 58%.

Males are more likely than females to be unbuckled in fatal crashes. Fifty-two percent of the male passengers killed in crashes in 2015 were unbuckled, compared with 42% for females.

People ejected from a vehicle in a crash are more likely to be killed than not. In 2015, eight out of 10 people totally ejected from vehicles in crashes were killed. Wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to prevent ejection; only 1% of occupants wearing seat belts were ejected in crashes, compared to 30% of those who were unbuckled.

In the last decade, seat belts saved the lives of more than 100,000 people in the United States.