A month of seemingly non-stop holiday parties and family trips is underway and has forced law enforcement to increase its presence on city and county roads. Although every accident is tragic, travel during the holiday season generally puts more family members in the same vehicle, thus increasing the potential for an even more devastating accident.

“Click It or Ticket” is a catch phrase that most drivers are familiar with. In recent years law enforcement agencies coast to coast have made a concerted effort to enforce seatbelt laws. Other efforts have also been instituted through state legislation making passenger safety a priority when traveling.

“During the holiday season there is a marked increased risk of multiple injuries or fatalities occurring as result of an accident. Families frequently take to the road in one vehicle for shopping excursions or family visits, increasing the potential for serious consequences in the event of an accident,” Rushville Chief of Police Tony Fudge said.

Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) Executive Director Heather Bolejack said recently that “too many people, especially those out traveling on rural roadways, still take the attitude that, it (an accident) will never happen to me.”

Unfortunately, accidents do happen. This time of year they are frequently due to a variety of reasons, three of which are deteriorating road conditions due to rapid and frequent changes in the weather, the aforementioned increase in the number of drivers on the road and the distractions of multiple passengers in the vehicle.

Nationally, rural areas account for only 21 percent of the United States’ population. However, nearly two-thirds of all passenger vehicle occupant fatalities and more than three-fourths of all pickup truck fatalities occur outside of urban areas.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 31,693 passengers died in 2004 crashes—and according to statistics recently released more than half of those killed were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident.

Indiana is showing an increase in seatbelt usage during recent years with 81.2 percent of motorists and passengers buckling up; however, that statistic pales by nearby Illinois which boasts 86 percent of motorists properly restrained, and Michigan’s 92.2 percent.

“We want to raise awareness during the time of year when many Hoosiers and Rush County residents are on the road traveling. We hope that our presence causes people to continue to make responsible decisions throughout the year,” Fudge said.

County law enforcement officials, along with the Indiana State Police, are also cracking down on those drivers who have a need for speed when traveling. Speed limits are clearly marked along city streets, state highways and county roads. The posted speeds are a maximum for optimum conditions. Weather, driver visibility and road conditions require drivers to adjust their speed accordingly.

Frank Denzler can be contacted at (765) 932-2222 or via e-mail at frank.denzler@cnhimedia.com. To add a comment to this story visit our Website at www.rushvillerepublican.com.

Recommended for you