Safer Thanksgiving Holiday, State Police Say

HARRISBURG – The number of highway fatalities, injuries and total crashes investigated by state police during the five-day Thanksgiving holiday driving period all dropped compared to the same period last year, Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller said Monday.

“We had better weather than last year for the driving period, but I believe the decreases are in part the result of tougher traffic-law enforcement by our troopers and greater use of seat belts by the public,” Miller said.

He said 11 people were killed and 379 others were injured in the 1,066 crashes to which state police responded during the holiday driving period that began Wednesday and ended Sunday. During last year’s five-day Thanksgiving driving period, 13 people were killed and 503 others were injured in 1,738 crashes investigated by troopers.

Noting that studies by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation show that seat belt usage in Pennsylvania is on the rise, Miller said the holiday statistics indicate that far too many drivers and passengers still fail to buckle up.

“Only one of the 11 people killed during the holiday travel period was wearing a seat belt,” Miller said. “Making sure that everyone in a vehicle is properly restrained is the single most important thing that can be done to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries.”

Miller said 103 of the 1,066 crashes, including two of the fatal crashes, were alcohol-related.

State Police issued 6,490 speeding citations, arrested 369 individuals for driving under the influence, cited 476 people for not wearing seat belts and issued citations to 63 for failing to properly restrain children in child safety seats during the holiday driving period.

During the same period in 2005, troopers wrote 4,500 speeding citations, arrested 292 drivers for DUI, cited 237 individuals for not wearing seat belts and issued citations to 53 people for not properly restraining children in child safety seats.

The crash numbers cover only those incidents investigated by state police and do not include statistics on crashes to which other law-enforcement agencies responded.

During the holiday driving period, state police took part in both the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign to increase seat belt usage and the national “Operation C.A.R.E.” program to reduce traffic crashes on interstate highways, Miller said.

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