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Seat belt use during the holiday season

The Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) invite parents and caregivers to make this holiday season a safer one by taking advantage of free car seat checks across the state that will complement the nationwide Click It or Ticket “Operation Safe Holiday” enforcement effort occurring from November 20 through December 4.

Troopers and other department members certified as Child Passenger Safety Technicians will conduct no-cost car seat fittings, at various locations no appointment necessary. Car seats will be checked for suitability, and participants will receive instruction on proper installation and child restraint. For a complete list of child passenger seat fitting stations, please visit http://www.psp.pa.gov.

Under Pennsylvania law, children under the age of four must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat. A new provision, signed into law this summer, mandates that children under two-years-old be secured in a rear-facing car seat. Children from age four to age eight must use an appropriate booster seat.

“Seat-belts and child passenger safety seats save lives when used properly,” said Major Edward Hoke, Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol Director. Troopers will be issuing citations for seat-belt and child-seat violations as part of the enforcement effort.

Children ages eight to 18 must wear a seatbelt when riding anywhere in a vehicle and all drivers and front-seat passengers 18-years-old and older are required to buckle up.

Part of Penn DOT’s mission is to educate the public on safety concerns and encourage them to do the right things while driving to protect themselves and their families from harm or injury. They are working with law enforcement to urge travelers to always buckle up and never drive impaired by drugs or alcohol.

During enforcement operations, law enforcement will conduct seat belt and impaired driving enforcement simultaneously because unbelted and impaired driving crashes are shown to be significant contributors to traffic injuries and deaths, especially during nighttime hours

According to Penn DOT data, during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period in 2015, including the weekend before and after the holiday as well as the day itself, there were 4,029 crashes and 45 fatalities in those crashes statewide. The Christmas and New Year’s travel periods, including the weekend before Christmas, New Year’s and the weekend after, saw 4,985 crashes and 46 fatalities.

Additionally, during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays last year, 1,209 of the statewide crashes involved a driver impaired by drugs or alcohol, with 38 fatalities in those crashes. In that same period, there were 1,076 crashes with unbuckled occupants, with 48 fatalities in those crashes.

Officials also encouraged travelers to use the Safer Ride app. The app, developed in 2014 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in an effort to curb drunk driving, is available for free download on Android and Apple devices and is a great option to facilitate a safe ride home after you’ve been drinking. Once the app is downloaded, you can use it to call a taxi or a friend by identifying your location so you can be picked up.

For more information on Penn Dot’s highway safety efforts during the holiday seasons visit, http://www.penndot.gov/safety.

This article was last updated on January 19, 2017. 

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