JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Jonesboro Police Department has an important message for Thanksgiving travelers: buckle up.
Thanksgiving is historically the busiest travel time of the year, and with more people on the road there is an increased chance of crashes.
In 2012, more than 300 people in the U.S. were killed in crashes on Thanksgiving weekend alone. The Jonesboro Police Department said what's sadder than that statistic, is that many of those deaths could have been prevented with one simple click of a seat belt.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012, 12,174 people survived crashes because they were buckled up, but 3,031 more lives could have been saved.
That is the point of a new national seat belt campaign called ''Buckle Up America – Every Trip, Every Time.''
"More than half the drivers and passengers being killed in crashes aren't wearing their seat belts. That's a major problem." Sgt. George Martin said.
On Thanksgiving weekend in 2012, 60 percent of the people killed in crashes were not wearing seatbelts. JPD said the statistic was even worse at night: 69 percent of the people killed at night were unbuckled.
Younger drivers and men are also more likely to be unbuckled in a crash, according to NHTSA data. The age group of 21 to 24 had the highest percentage of people killed in crashes who were unbuckled.
Fifty-six percent of men killed in crashes in 2012 were not buckled up, compared to 43 percent for women.
The overall seat belt rate in the United States is 87 percent. That is a significant increase from 79 percent in 2003, but police say there is room for improvement.
"For those people who already buckle up every time: Thank you," Sgt. Martin said. "For them, this campaign serves as a reminder. But for those people who still don't buckle up for whatever reason, I want to say this: buckling your seat belt is one of the simplest, safest things you'll ever do."
For more information about traveling safely during Thanksgiving, visit NHTSA's website.