NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The American Red Cross on Tuesday was pleading for blood donors to volunteer, with a serious blood shortage looming.

Blood donations to the Red Cross are down about 8 percent over the last 11 weeks, resulting in about 80,000 fewer donations than expected, the agency said. The number of donors is continuing to decline, and the shortfall is severe enough that an emergency situation could develop in the weeks to come, the Red Cross said.

American Red Cross spokesman Anthony Tronetta told 1010 WINS blood donations are particularly important during the summer months, since more people are on the roads and could need donations after traffic accidents.

“You see a spike in traffic accidents during the summer months, because people are traveling longer distances to visit with families and friends,” Tronetta said.

But the summer is also a time of year when the shortage of blood is also evident, given that so many people are away, he said. He emphasized that giving blood is not a complex and time-consuming process.

“Forty to 50 minutes of your time, and you’re going to help provide a second chance for someone that doesn’t get to go to a summer barbecue, or visit the beach, or something like that,” Tronetta said.

Eligible donors with types O negative, B negative, and A negative blood are needed in particular, the Red Cross said.

There is also an urgent need for platelet donations, the Red Cross said. Platelets are key clotting component of blood that are often needed by cancer patients, burn victims, and bone marrow patients and must be transfused within five days, the Red Cross said.

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