Thanksgiving Weekend Challenge Saves Lives

Sacramento, CA…The California Highway Patrol (CHP) and its law enforcement partners throughout the nation are pleased to announce the results from the two recent traffic safety challenges issued for Interstate 5 (I-5) and Interstate 40 (I-40). No lives were lost during the two-day campaign on I-40. Unfortunately, one person was killed during the four-day effort on I-5 in California’s Kern County.

“We have to acknowledge the public who took the challenges seriously and traveled safely throughout the weekend,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “While one life was tragically lost during the challenge campaign, it is encouraging what can be accomplished when everyone works together for a common goal.”

More than nine states, including California, joined forces over the recent Thanksgiving holiday weekend to educate the public and encourage everyone to drive safe and buckle up. The goal of the combined efforts from the two challenges was to ensure no lives were lost during one of the busiest travel weekends on I-5 or I-40. The CHP focused on education and enforcement regarding speeding, driving under the influence (DUI), distracted driving, and failure to wear a seat belt.

The one life lost during the I-5 Challenge was a child not restrained in the backseat of the vehicle. The CHP reminds the public that it offers free child safety seat inspections and installations at every Area office throughout the state. Contact your local CHP office to schedule an appointment.

During the same time frame as the two nationwide challenges on I-5 and I-40 were taking place, the CHP’s Thanksgiving Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP) was being conducted statewide. Overall, there were 33 people killed in collisions in California during the 4 ¼-day effort, which reflects a 25 percent decrease from the same period last year. Arrests for driving under the influence by the CHP were also down from last year by 9 percent (1,320 arrests for DUI in 2012 and 1,201 DUI arrests by CHP in 2013).

Among the vehicle occupants killed in collisions within CHP jurisdiction, 88 percent (15 of the 17 vehicle occupants) were not wearing a seat belt. California has a very high occupant restraint compliance rate of approximately 97 percent, which is well above the national average of 86 percent. While the majority of Californians are buckling up, allowing them to survive collisions or avoid serious injury, we need to reach the small percentage of people who have not heeded the message.

“As you travel during this holiday season, please take the time to buckle up and secure your children in a child safety seat. Make sure everyone in the car, including passengers in the rear seats, are buckled up before you start your trip and throughout the journey,” added Commissioner Farrow. “We have seen it time and again, seat belts do save lives.”

Although the challenges and MEP may have concluded, the public should continue to practice safe driving habits anytime they get behind the wheel.

“Traffic safety is a concern for all of us in law enforcement throughout California,” said Covina Police Chief Kim Raney, president of the 1,120-member California Police Chiefs Association. “Most of the traffic deaths that occur on our roadways can be prevented if motorists obey the speed limit, eliminate distractions behind the wheel, avoid drinking and driving and buckle up every trip, every time. It’s especially tragic that during the Thanksgiving weekend so many people died because they weren’t wearing a seat belt. It only takes a few seconds to buckle up and vastly improve your odds of surviving in a collision.”