|CHARLESTON, WV — The West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make sure everyone makes it to the table this Thanksgiving. Because the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest for America, more drivers will be on the roads than usual, increasing the likelihood of a motor vehicle crash. It is vitally important for drivers and passengers to correctly use their seat belt every time they are traveling in a vehicle. Drivers are also reminded to never get behind the wheel after consuming alcoholic beverages, drugs, or certain impairing medications.|
“As Thanksgiving approaches and travel ramps up, let’s keep safety front and center on our roads,” said Gov. Jim Justice. “Be mindful of fellow travelers, buckle up, and soak in the stunning West Virginia scenery as you travel to be with loved ones. Above all, let’s pledge not to drive under the influence. Your journey matters, so look out for each other, drive smart, and let’s ensure all our families get to enjoy the season together!”
In 2021, 190 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period (6 p.m. Wednesday, November 24 through 5:59 a.m. Monday, November 29). From 2017-2021, 832 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes during the entire Thanksgiving holiday period (6 p.m. the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through 5:59 a.m. the Monday after Thanksgiving). During the 2021 Thanksgiving holiday period, more than four times as many drivers involved in fatal crashes were alcohol-impaired during nighttime hours than during the day. During this same period, male drivers were more likely than females to be alcohol-impaired and involved in a fatal crash, with males accounting for more than three-quarters of the alcohol-impaired drivers.In 2021 there were 13,384 fatalities in alcohol-impaired motor vehicle traffic crashes, accounting for 31% of all traffic fatalities in the United States that year.Fatalities in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes increased by 14% (11,718 to 13,384 fatalities) from 2020 to 2021 and increased by 31% (10,196 to 13,384 fatalities) from 2019 to 2021.
These deaths represent needless tragedies for families across America and may have been prevented with the simple click of a seat belt or a sober ride home.
“Thanksgiving is a time for celebrating and being grateful with loved ones, and we want to make sure that West Virginians close to home or traveling arrive at their holiday destination safely,” said Amy Boggs, GHSP Occupant Protection Coordinator.
“Whether you’re driving 10 minutes to the Thanksgiving table, or 10 hours, it’s important that drivers and passengers buckle up, and children are properly restrained in the appropriate car seat or booster for their weight and height,” Boggs added.
The GHSP is partnering with law enforcement to conduct a statewide impaired driving prevention enforcement mobilization surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday. Drivers are reminded that for some, just one alcoholic beverage is one too many. If you plan to drive, plan to refrain from alcohol or drugs during your Thanksgiving celebrations.
“Driving while impaired is illegal. You could kill yourself or someone else on the road. Impaired driving is not acceptable, especially when there are so many safe alternatives to get you home safely. Let’s show gratitude by being responsible drivers so that we keep ourselves and all road users safe,” concluded Boggs.
For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit highwaysafety.wv.gov or call 304-926-2509.