DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Thousands of Triangle families will hit the road to celebrate Thanksgiving. And every year, several people are killed across the state in car crashes during this same holiday week. 

A tow truck driver loads up a damaged car on the side of the Durham Freeway Monday afternoon after a crash that injured the driver. It’s a reminder of just how busy and, at times, dangerous the roads will be over the next several days.

Kelly Milligan of Durham is still recovering from her own experience last year and reminds people to Click It or Ticket.

“[I] had my seatbelt on and I actually got slung to the side of the interstate,” Milligan said. “So as I was sitting there, I was like, ‘Oh, thank God I put my seatbelt on this morning. Thank God I’m still here for my children.'” 

At Durham County Memorial Stadium, the sheriff’s office teamed up with the NC Governor’s Highway Safety Program to remind North Carolinians to stay cautious on the road this holiday season.

“We go numb when we hear about traffic crashes; ‘Oh, that’s just the cost of doing business,'” Governor’s Highway Safety Program Director Mark Ezzell said. “But it’s not. It is not.”

The Department of Transportation reports nearly 400 people have died on North Carolina roadways in unbuckled crashes so far this year. And last year, that same factor played a part in 45% of all vehicle fatalities. 

“Law enforcement from Murphy to Manteo are going to be checking to make sure that people are engaged in safe driving behaviors, including wearing the seatbelt as required by law,” Ezzell said.

Milligan said that could make all the difference as the end of 2023 draws near.

“This holiday, wear your seatbelt,” she said. “You do not want your family to get that call, the devastating call that you’re no longer here.”