Police warn drivers will get tickets for drunk driving

WASHINGTON -- Police pledge strict enforcement of safety laws this holiday week as more Americans take to the road for their Thanksgiving travels.

The AAA predicts that 30 million Thanksgiving travelers -- a record 87 percent of those going on a trip of 50 miles or more -- will choose to drive because of fears of flying after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The survey was taken before last week's crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in New York, so even more people may consider driving.

But Chuck Hurley, executive director of the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign, said the risk per mile of driving is 37 times higher than that for flying.

The National Safety Council predicts that 532 people will die this week in automobile crashes, compared with 497 last year.

For five years, police and safety groups have combined forces for a high-profile enforcement of restraint and drunken driving laws in an attempt to reduce crashes during Thanksgiving week.

More than 10,600 law enforcement agencies from all 50 states and the District of Columbia are participating in the effort beginning today.

More checkpoints

Police will increase patrols, stage checkpoints and ticket drivers who are not buckled and those who fail to buckle children riding in their vehicle.

Research shows that for many people who do not wear seat belts, the possibility of receiving a ticket is a more powerful incentive than the threat of death.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 7,700 of the more than 40,000 people who die each year in U.S. traffic accidents would be saved if they wore a seat belt