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THP to enforce seat belt usage this Memorial Day Weekend


Tennessee Highway Patrol is planning to step up efforts to enforce seat belt usage during the Memorial Day holiday weekend as State Troopers along with other state and local law enforcement agencies are participating in the national seat belt enforcement campaign, Click it or Ticket, May 21 through June 3.


The 2012 Memorial Day holiday period begins at midnight, Friday, May 25, and will end at 11:59 p.m., Monday, May 28. Nineteen people were killed on Tennessee roadways during the 2011 Memorial Day holiday weekend. Thats up from 13 fatalities in 2010. Last year, alcohol was involved in six of the fatalities, and 50 percent of the vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts. During the 78-hour holiday time period, two pedestrians and seven motorcyclists were killed.


Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer holiday travel season. Its the perfect time to remind all motorists to buckle up. Tennessee State Troopers will be working around the clock to enforce the seat belt law in an effort to ensure the safety of the motoring public, Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.


As of May 22, officials noted 369 people have been killed on Tennessee roadways. That is 36 more vehicular fatalities than the 333 killed during this same time last year. Of the 290 vehicle occupant fatalities this year, more than 55 percent were not restrained.


THP also reports that 947 people were killed on state roadways in 2011. Of the 729 vehicle occupants killed, 51.9 percent were not wearing seat belts. Of those unrestrained vehicle occupants, 190 were killed during nighttime hours versus 160 during the daytime hours (28 had unknown time).


More traffic-related fatalities can be prevented if motorists would simply wear their seat belt, THP Col. Tracy Trott said. Wearing a seat belt will cost you nothing, but wearing one may just save your life. We cant stress the importance of seat belt usage enough. Buckle up every time you get into a vehicle.


When worn correctly, seat belts have been proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent, and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans.


Trott also noted the number of alcohol-related fatalities from Jan. 1 through May 22, 2012. In Tennessee, preliminary information indicates vehicular fatalities involving alcohol has increased 33 percent compared to this same time last year. Additionally, State troopers have made 1,941 DUI arrests through the first four months of the year. In 2011, the number of arrests made during that time was 1,359.


Drivers can expect to see plenty of State Troopers on the road, enforcing seat belt laws and looking for aggressive and impaired drivers. More than 70 checkpoints are scheduled throughout the long holiday weekend in an effort to reduce fatalities and serious injury crashes in the state. State troopers are to conduct a drivers license check on Friday afternoon, May 25, on Highway 231.


During the 2009 Memorial Day holiday, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security launched its Traffic Fatality Victims Memorial, designed to give family members of those killed an opportunity to memorialize and remember their loved ones. For more information, please visit the website at http://www.tn.gov/safety/pubsafety/fatalitymemorial.html.

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