Police and safety officials in Coaldale West Penn Township, Rush Township and Tamaqua have announced a special crackdown this Thanksgiving for people who refuse to buckle their seat belts during Thanksgiving.

The campaign, known as Click it or Ticket, will run throughout the Thanksgiving holiday week, having started on Nov. 16 and running through Nov. 30, said Chief Dave Mattson of the Tamaqua Police Department.

"If you are planning to travel by car to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends, make sure you and everyone riding with you buckles your seat belts," said Chief Mattson. "Whether you're traveling across town, or across the state, if you or anyone in your vehicle is unbelted, you run the risk of getting a little holiday present from the police," said Chief Mattson.

Although nationally more people are using seat belts than ever before, far too many people still aren't buckling up and consequently are paying the ultimate price.

According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 25,000 passenger vehicle occupants (drivers and passengers) died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2008 across the nation, and just over half, 12,865, were not wearing seat belts.

Nationally, during the Thanksgiving holiday period in 2008, which ran from 6 p.m., Wednesday, Nov.26, to 5:59 a.m., Monday, Dec. 1, 389 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes including 156 from crashes occurring during daylight hours (6 a.m. to 5:59 p.m.) and 231 from crashes during nighttime (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.). Two people died in crashes during unrecorded time periods.

Nationally, nighttime is the worst for seat belt use, according to NHTSA statistics. Of the 231 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities from crashes occurring at night during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2008, 67 percent had unfastened seat belts (based on known restraint use); while 40 percent of the fatalities from daytime crashes were not wearing seat belts.

"Wearing a seat belt costs you nothing, and may save your life or protect you from a serious, possibly life-altering injury. Not wearing a seat belt, especially during this Thanksgiving period, will definitely cost you a ticket at the very least, and maybe even your life," said Chief Mattson.

Regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes, according to NHTSA. Research has shown that when lap and shoulder belts are used properly, the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent.

For more information about the Click It or Ticket campaign for highway safety during Thanksgiving, please visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.