BENNINGTON -- Local police are promising increased police patrols during the Thanksgiving Day holiday.
Bennington Police Lt. Lloyd Dean said the holidays produce busy traveling days and significantly more traffic. As a result, local police will be taking part in a Click-It-or Ticket campaign next week, he said.
"During the long Thanksgiving travel weekend, many more people than usual are on the roads visiting family and friends," Dean said. "And we want to alert everyone that perhaps the single best thing they can do to save lives and protect themselves and their passengers on our roadways is to insist on the regular and proper use of their seat belts."
Dean said the campaign will begin at 6 p.m. on Nov. 21 and run through Nov. 25.
Traffic safety efforts are at the forefront of policing efforts in Vermont because of the number of fatalities on Vermont roads. Dean said so far this year there have been 61 fatal crashes that have resulted in 68 deaths. Four of the 61 fatal crashes and four deaths have occurred in Bennington County, including two within the town of Bennington.
Dean said 31 traffic deaths in the state this year involved unbelted drivers or passengers.
The Bennington Police Department will have additional officers patrolling local roads throughout the holiday period, Dean said. There will also safety checkpoints during that time, where officers will make contact with motorists to check that all occupants inside a vehicle are buckled.
Dean, citing statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said seat belts saved more than 12,500 lives across the country in 2010. The risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers in cars is reduced by 45 percent if a seat belt is properly warned. The risk of moderate or serious injuries is reduced by 50 percent when seat beats are worn correctly.
"It’s a simple step that each of us can take to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Yet, too many people are still not buckling up -- especially in the hustle and bustle of holiday travel," Dean said.