Washington In time for the busy Thanksgiving travel week, a national safety campaign by law enforcement agencies is focusing on drunken drivers and motorists who fail to buckle children.
Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children, with more than 2,000 victims each year. Nearly one-quarter die in alcohol-related accidents while 60 percent of the children killed are completely unrestrained.
More than 10,000 law enforcement agencies, beginning today, have pledged to ticket drivers with unrestrained child passengers and arrest drunken drivers. Police in many states will operate roadblocks to check for drunken drivers and seat belt use.
"Officers across the nation are sending the same message," said Ida Gillis, National President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. "If you put innocent lives at risk by not buckling up kids or by driving drunk, we're going to find you and law enforcement action will be taken against you to protect our children."
The safety efforts started in 1997 and have occurred each Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. The federal government credits them with contributing to a significant decline in child fatalities and for helping to increase child restraint use.
"This is the best proven way to reduce drunk driving and increase belt use," said Chuck Hurley, spokesman for the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign, a nonprofit group helping to organize the campaign with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.