Provo police enforce seat belt-use over Thanksgiving weekend

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    By Stephanie Richards

    Millions of people around the nation are affected by the devastating effects of car accidents every year — including BYU students.

    Shannon Abegglen, 19, a sophomore from Provo majoring in nursing, is still suffering effects from a car accident two years ago. She said her seat belt provided her with a second life.

    “The seatbelt was the only thing that kept me in my seat and my head from being crushed,” she said. “I honestly believe it saved my life.”

    To cut down on car-related fatalities, the Provo Police Department is teaming up with 8,000 law enforcement agencies across the nation this week to buckle up America as part of Operation ABC Mobilization.

    Operation ABC: America Buckles up Children, is a national program to promote education and awareness of child-passenger safety.

    The Thanksgiving Seat Belt Enforcement Blitz began Monday and will continue through Thanksgiving weekend.

    Officers will write citations for travelers not wearing their seat belts.

    Utah law requires all passengers, in the front and the back seat, to wear safety belts, said Erin Bennett of the Provo Police department.

    A similar blitz over the Labor Day weekend resulted in officers across Utah writing out 4,580 seat belt citations, according to statistics from the Buckle or Bust it program, sponsored by the Utah safety office and Primary Childrens Medical Center.

    Though overall travel is expected to be down by six percent this Thanksgiving, the AAA expects 243,000 Utahns to travel by car during this weekend.

    One in 8 people from Utah will travel at least 50 miles from home, said Rolayne Fairclough, public affairs and legislative analyst for AAA of Utah.

    Fairclough said 87 percent of these travelers will be driving.

    “This is the highest percentage we have ever seen for the Thanksgiving season,” Fairclough said.

    Fewer people will be traveling by airplane this season. Travelers will instead rely on driving as their main form of transportation, Fairclough said.

    Liz Neblett, spokesperson for Operation ABC Mobilization said 56 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who did not use seat belts or child safety seats were killed in fatal crashes last year. That is more than double the 27 percent of occupants who used restraints.

    “More than 85 percent of child safety seats are misused or not used at all,” Neblett said.

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