December 22, 2008

Some 400 Xmas vehicle deaths estimated

More than 400 U.S. motor-vehicle fatalities will occur during the Christmas holiday period, officials at The National Safety Council predicted.

Janet Froetscher, president of the National Safety Council, estimates there will be 432 motor-vehicle fatalities during the Christmas holiday period that begins at 6 p.m.Wednesday and extends until midnight, Dec. 28. For the New Year's holiday period, from 6 p.m. on Dec. 31 until midnight on Jan. 4, the council estimates 445 motor-vehicle fatalities.

Estimates coincide with a 2008 traffic fatality rate that, through October, has the United States on track for the number of crash-related deaths dipping below 40,000.

Reasons for increased driver safety include: improved safety features in vehicles, greater visibility and enforcement of important traffic safety laws related to seat belts, child passengers, impaired driving and teen driving.

Seat belts are the single best defense against drunk drivers and the most effective way to protect passengers and reduce fatalities in crashes, Froetscher says in a statement. And please, if you plan to drink at a holiday party, don't drive. Alcohol impairment is a factor in 32 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities.