RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- There might be less traffic on the highway this holiday season but the rules of the road still apply.
The Highway Patrol is out in increased numbers as part of the Thanksgiving "Click It or Ticket" campaign.
The initiative, part of the N.C. Governor's Highway Safety Program, is aimed at reminding drivers to buckle up when behind the wheel.
"Although this holiday season might look vastly different for many families, a commitment to safe driving must be paramount for those traveling," said Col. Glenn McNeill Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol. "The safety and health of all across our state should guide our activities this holiday season and part of that equation is safety behind the wheel of a vehicle."
Increased trooper presence runs from Monday through Sunday.
"Our goal is to save lives by increasing public awareness about the importance of seat belt use," said Mark Ezzell, Director of the N.C. Governor's Highway Safety Program.
Despite reduced traffic volumes during the COVID-19 pandemic, roadway deaths and serious accidents have increased in North Carolina in 2020. Last year there were 434 total unbelted deaths across the state. Already in 2020, 440 people have lost their lives while not wearing a seatbelt.
"This year, we're facing two public health crises at the same time," Ezzell said. "One, the pandemic, is getting a lot of attention. But the other, an increase in unbelted traffic deaths, can't be ignored. We need to stay vigilant and stay careful this holiday season to save people from losing their life to either."
During Thanksgiving Week 2019, eight people lost their lives on North Carolina roadways while not wearing a seatbelt, and another 22 were seriously injured.
North Carolina law requires all passengers in a vehicle to be properly restrained. Violations are punishable by fines up to $179.
To help you and your loved ones stay safe this Thanksgiving holiday, GHSP recommends the following safety tips to drivers and passengers as they travel:
- Buckle Up. Every Seat. Every Time. It's the law.
- Don't drink and drive. Make sure you have a sober designated driver.
- Obey the posted speed limit.
- Keep a safe following distance.
- Turn on your headlights in the rain or snow.
- Put away all distractions including cell phones.