This Thanksgiving season — #BoycottBlackoutWednesday

Brownwood Bulletin

With the pandemic entering into the 9th month, our highways continue to see less traffic than in pre-pandemic times.  But do not let less crowded roads make you think that you can let your guard down on being a safe driver.

Though the number of crashes has dropped, the risk of a fatal crash is actually higher.  The holiday season is coming up and if you are wondering what to wear for the holidays, wearing your seat belt will help ensure you arrive safely!

During the 2018 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, nearly half of all passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes were unbuckled! Taking those few seconds to buckle your children into their car seats, and making sure older children and adults are using seat belts is the most crucial step you can take to protect those you love in a crash. Those few seconds can save your family and friends from having to go through a needless tragedy.

Fortunately, most Texans now buckle up, but some groups of motorists continue not taking the message to heart by not consistently using their seat belts. Pickup truck drivers and their passengers are less likely to wear seat belts. And, unfortunately, according to Texas A&M Transportation Institute Surveys, in 2019 only 68.2% of children were riding correctly restrained in a car seat.

It is also important to make sure you wear your seat belt day or night and on short trips as well as long trips. Most crashes happen close to home and most fatal crashes happen at night! Going around the corner to the grocery store is not an excuse to take a chance on not buckling up. Skipping your seat belt at night is also a very dangerous idea.

This year’s Click It or Ticket campaign will include Thanksgiving and be a good reminder to make sure all of your passengers are buckled up. During this year’s Click It or Ticket campaign, officers will be out November 16-29, enforcing the Texas seat belt laws not to increase citations, but to help save lives.  The “Click It or Ticket” initiative in Texas is estimated to have saved 6,234 lives, prevented more than 100,000 serious injuries, and saved more than $23.6 billion in related economic costs from 2002 to 2019. Texas law requires the driver and all passengers in a vehicle to be secured by a seat belt or child restraint. Unbuckled drivers and passengers, even those in the back seat, face fines and court costs of up to $200.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Family and Community Health Educator Courtney Parrott, Brown County reminds drivers and passengers of these important safety tips.

Children should ride in the back seat until they reach the age of 13. Until a child reaches age 13, their bones are not fully developed. Placing a child whose bones are not yet strong enough in the front seat, where there is the windshield, dashboard, and air bags, puts them at greater risk of injury or death during a crash.

Pickup trucks, while big and strong, are twice as likely to rollover in a crash due to their higher center of gravity. Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying in a crash up to 45% in a passenger vehicle and up to 60 percent in a pickup truck. It is important to always make sure that the driver and every passenger in a pickup truck is buckled up.

Buckling up is not just for the daytime. Between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. is when more crashes and fatalities happen.

Unbuckled passengers are also dangerous to others in the vehicle. In the event of a crash, the unbuckled passenger becomes a large projectile flying around the vehicle, who can injure or kill other occupants in the vehicle — including those who are buckled up!

The single most effective thing you can do as a driver and passenger is to wear your seat belt and make sure that everyone in the vehicle buckles up! With the holiday season approaching and the stress of the pandemic still around, remember to buckle up on every trip, every time.  If you love it, click it!

Courtney Parrott

This Thanksgiving holiday, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is teaming up with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Watch UR BAC Program to spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving. A popular trend during the Thanksgiving holiday, “Blackout Wednesday” occurs on the eve of Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the trend encourages the heavy consumption of alcohol, which is why we’re working hard to keep drunk drivers off the roads.

This Thanksgiving Eve, on November 25, 2020, NHTSA and its partners are conducting a social media blitz featuring the hashtag #BoycottBlackoutWednesday to help deliver lifesaving messages into the public conversation and encourage positive actions that can help reduce impaired driving on the roadways. Remember: nationally, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, except in Utah, where the BAC limit is .05. If you are under the influence of any impairing substance, hand the keys to a sober friend instead of driving yourself home.

“Drunk driving is a real threat to our community every day, and that threat increases during holidays like Thanksgiving,” said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Family and Community Health Agent Courtney Parrott , Brown County “Blackout Wednesday is a dangerous trend. Driving under the influence is deadly and illegal, and no one should ever take that risk.”

Drunk-driving-related crashes spike during the Thanksgiving holiday season. According to NHTSA, from 2014 to 2018, 138 drivers involved in fatal crashes on Thanksgiving Eve (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) were alcohol-impaired, and over the entire holiday period (6 p.m. the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through 5:59 a.m. the Monday after Thanksgiving) more than 800 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes. In fact, during the 2018 Thanksgiving holiday period, more than three times as many drivers involved in fatal crashes were alcohol-impaired during nighttime hours than during the day. 

The bottom line is this: If you know you’re headed out for a night of drinking, make sure you plan for a sober ride home. It is never safe to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while drunk or otherwise impaired. Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

If you’re planning to head out to the bar or to parties during the Thanksgiving holiday, make sure you plan for a sober ride home. Don’t leave your house without a plan on how to get home safely — once you start drinking you likely won’t make good choices. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a safe night out.

Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.

If available, use your community’s sober ride program.

 If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 911 when it is safe to do so.

 Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.

By working together, we can save lives and help keep America’s roadways safe. Please join us in sharing the lifesaving message Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving and use the hashtag #BoycottBlackoutWednesday during the holiday weekend.