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Rhode Island Association of Police Chiefs urges safe and sober driving, proper seat belt use this Thanksgiving holiday weekend

For immediate release

SMITHFIELD – The Rhode Island Association of Chiefs of Police would like to remind the community of important safe driving tips ahead of Thanksgiving weekend.

Representatives from RIPCA and law enforcement joined the Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL), the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and representatives from Bryant University Tuesday morning in Smithfield to put a special emphasis on the compliance with the rules of the road and safe driving. Officials offered tips on safe and responsible driving during the event to help prevent accidents this weekend.

“Law enforcement officers from every community in Rhode Island work every day to keep people safe on the roads,” RIPCA Executive Director Sid Wordell said at Tuesday’s event. “Together, by raising awareness, educating the public on prevention and safety and enforcing the laws, we hope to reduce the number of accidents on our roads. However, we cannot do it alone. Everyone plays a role in preventing unnecessary loss of life, and we hope everyone takes the necessary steps to travel safely this weekend. »

Click It or Ticket Mobilization

State departments participate in the National Click it or Ticket High visibility enforcement campaign during the Thanksgiving holiday. Under the campaign, which began Nov. 21 and will run through Nov. 27, police departments are working together to reduce the number of deaths that occur when drivers and passengers don’t buckle up by stepping up their Enforcement efforts for motorists who aren’t wearing their seatbelts.

In Rhode Island, the law requires all vehicle occupants to wear seat belts, and violations result in a $40 fine.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020, between the evening of November 25 and the morning of November 30, 333 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in crashes across the country – 52% were not retained.

The Rhode Island Association of Chiefs of Police joins forces with NHTSA and the Rhode Island Bureau of Traffic Safety to remind drivers to “buckle up.” Every trip. Everytime.”

  • In 2020, 23,824 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in traffic crashes in the United States. Fifty percent of all passenger vehicle occupants in the front seat killed in crashes in 2020 were unrestrained, and 59% of those killed in the rear seats were unrestrained.
  • No matter what time of day, driving without a seatbelt is deadly. Over the 2020 Thanksgiving weekend, 51% of passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes at night were unbuckled, compared to 55% during the day.
  • Of young adults aged 18-34 killed while riding in passenger vehicles in 2020, more than half (60%) were completely unrestrained – one of the highest percentages for any age groups.
  • Men make up the majority of people killed in road accidents involving motor vehicles. In 2020, 67% of the 23,824 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed were male. Men also wear their seat belts at a lower rate than women – 55% of men killed in crashes were unfastened, compared to 43% of women killed in crashes.
  • If you are ejected from a vehicle in an accident, chances are you won’t survive. In 2020, 82% of passenger vehicle occupants totally ejected from vehicles in crashes were killed. Wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to avoid ejection. In 2020, only 1% of passenger vehicle occupants wearing their seatbelts were ejected in fatal crashes, compared to 26% of those not restrained.
  • Over the past decade, seat belts have saved the lives of over 100,000 people in the United States.

Additional reminders for safe driving

Drive sober

According to the NHTSA, during Thanksgiving weekend from 2016 to 2020, more than 800 people died in crashes involving a drunk driver.

Thanksgiving Eve is a popular time for people to start getting together with family and friends and hitting the bars in their hometowns. That makes Thanksgiving Eve a dangerous night for driving — from 2016 to 2020, 138 drivers involved in fatal crashes on Thanksgiving Eve were drunk. Young drivers, ages 21 to 24, accounted for the highest percentage (44%) of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes the day before Thanksgiving.

  • Nationwide, it is illegal to drive while impaired, no exceptions. It is illegal to drive in Rhode Island with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. However, remember that even a small amount of alcohol or drugs can quickly affect a person’s judgment.
  • If you’re planning on drinking, plan ahead for a sober ride home. Designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride-sharing service.
  • Pay attention to your family and friends. If someone you know is intoxicated and planning to drive, take their keys and arrange to get them home safely.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, pull over safely and call 911.

Don’t drive distracted

Distracted driving is defined as any activity that takes your attention away from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, adjusting the radio or navigation system – any which distracts your attention from the driving safety task.

Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading an SMS takes your eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, it’s like walking an entire football field with your eyes closed.

An analysis of NHTSA data found that 3,142 people died in distraction-related crashes in 2020, an increase from 3,119 such deaths in 2019. Road safety experts believe that the inattention of the driver is a significant factor in motor vehicle accidents and fatalities.

NHTSA offers these tips for motorists to avoid a distracted crash.

  • Before driving, turn off your phone and put it out of reach.
  • Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode.
  • Let your friends and family know that you’ll be driving and won’t be able to take their calls or texts.
  • If you need to make a call or send a text, stop.
  • Parents can set an example by never driving distracted and are encouraged to talk with their teen driver about being distracted and all the responsibilities that come with driving.

Watch out for pedestrians

NHTSA reports that 6,516 pedestrians were killed in the United States in 2020. On average, a pedestrian was killed every 81 minutes and injured every 10 minutes in traffic crashes in 2020. Pedestrian fatalities accounted for 17% of all road deaths in 2020 and 2% of all people injured in traffic accidents in 2020.

Safety tips for drivers include:

  • Watch out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times.
  • Use extra care when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as at night or in bad weather.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk.
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop away from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.
  • Never pass vehicles stopped at a pedestrian crossing. There may be people crossing where you cannot see.
  • Obey the speed limit, especially around people on the street, in school zones and in neighborhoods where children are present.
  • Be very careful when backing up and look for pedestrians.

RIIL has also partnered with RIDOT as part of the “Road Safety is a Team Sport” initiative. This campaign supports RIDOT’s mission to achieve zero fatalities by focusing on the areas of occupant safety, distracted driving and impaired driving.