Stuck in traffic on your way to turkey? Don’t be surprised. Millions of people will travel the roads this Thanksgiving visiting family and friends for the holiday. An increase in traffic also means an increase in risk of a motor vehicle crash. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Region 7 would like to take this opportunity to remind drivers to wear their seat belt this Thanksgiving and every day.

In 2016, seat belt use in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 14,668 lives nationally. Many Americans understand the lifesaving value of the seat belt, but nearly 27.5 million people still don’t buckle up. In Region 7, seat belts saved an estimated 940 lives in 2017. Another 286 lives may have been saved if they were wearing a seat belt. Your seat belt is your best protection against impaired drivers, distracted drivers, and other risks you may face on the road. Make sure you and your family buckle up every time.

“Thanksgiving is a time when we give thanks and spend time with friends and family, but it also brings increased risk on our roadways,” said NHTSA Region 7 Regional Administrator, Susan DeCourcy. “Nearly half of all drivers and passengers killed in crashes during the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend were not wearing seat belts. These deaths could have been avoided through the use of a seat belt. Let us take this holiday to be thankful for seat belts and make sure all our loved ones buckle up.”

NHTSA estimates that proper seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury by 50 percent. But that life-saving potential is lost when drivers and passengers don’t buckle up. NHTSA’s research reveals that males are more likely to be unbuckled than females in a fatal crash, and that younger drivers are also at greater risk of being unbuckled. The 13- to 15-year-old and 18- to 34-year-old age groups had the highest percentages (62% and 59%, respectively) of occupants killed who were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash. This Thanksgiving reach out to your friends and family members that might not be wearing their seat belt and remind them of all they have to be thankful for, and to buckle up – every trip, every time.

For more information about traveling safely this Thanksgiving, please visit