National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
Washington, DC -- With millions of Americans traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday and most of them on the nation's roadways, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark Rosenker urges motorists and passengers to wear seat belts, and make sure young people are properly restrained.
"As we travel to see our families and friends, I urge the American public to put safety first while enjoying the holiday," said Rosenker. "Motorists need to be alert and avoid distractions, to slow down particularly in residential areas -- and do not drink and drive."
Rosenker stressed that one of the most effective ways to maximize safety is to wear a seatbelt. Pointing to some grim statistics, he noted that, from 1995 through 2004, almost 58 percent of the people who died in motor vehicle crashes nationwide were unrestrained.
Unrestrained vehicle occupants are ejected 29 percent of the time in an accident. When totally ejected, 74 percent are killed. When vehicle occupants use seat belts, only 1 percent of the belted population is ejected.
Rosenker also noted that motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. and that, regrettably, 8 out of 10 child safety seats are not properly installed, putting children at increased risk. "To be protected, children must be properly restrained in seats appropriate for their age, height, and weight," he said.
Rosenker urged parents and guardians to take these precautions:
-- Children under age 13 should sit in a rear seat, if one is available; placing a child in a rear seat reduces the risk of injury by 33 percent.
-- Use a booster seat and seat belt rather than a seat belt alone for a 4-to-8 year old. This will reduce a child's risk of injury by 59 percent.
-- Make sure to use the right restraint for the child and install it correctly. Infants, until they are at least 20 lbs and at least 1 year old, should be in a rear-facing child safety seat. Toddlers, until they are about 40 lbs or age 4, should be in a child safety seat facing forward. Children, until they are about 80 lbs or age 8, should be in booster seats. All children should use seat belts after they outgrow booster seats.
-- Have the child safety seat inspected at a fitting station by a trained technician.
"Remember that during this holiday season nothing is more important than the safety of your family. Do not let what should be a joyful holiday trip turn into a tragedy," said Rosenker.
NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.