CANTON Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson began his Thanksgiving Traffic Blitz a week ahead of the holiday and for good reason.

“The Thanksgiving holiday should be a joyous time for all families in America, but far too often the celebration turns to tragedy on the nation’s highways,” he said.

Swanson cited Highway Patrol statistics that show 22 people lost their lives in Ohio over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend last year. More than half of those people weren’t wearing safety belts, he said.

As a result, he started his holiday enforcement Thursday and is running it through Nov. 26.

“This is an aggressive mobilization to save lives by cracking down on those not wearing seat belts and committing other traffic offenses,” he said. “The goal is simple — to save more lives by convincing drivers and passengers to always buckle up and obey all traffic laws.”

Reach Repository writer Lori Monsewicz at (330) 580-8309 or e-mail: