U.S. DOT Kicks off "Click It or Ticket"

National seat belt campaign makes annual effort to change habits, save lives

More than a third of the 827 people killed in highway crashes past year were not using seat belts, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute reported.

In an effort to remind people that seat belts are important for safety, the state Department of Transportation and state police will partner with local police to provide increased seat belt enforcement during the national "Click It or Ticket" campaign from May 22 to June 4.

Virginia law allows police to cite anyone driving a vehicle in which an occupant under age 16 is not wearing a safety belt, or is not in a child safety seat. The campaign is targeted to all drivers, but especially the hard to reach males ages 18-34 who research shows are far less likely to wear seat belts.

"Safety advocates strongly encourage a child remain rear-facing in their child restraint until at least age 2".

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Seat belt usage stands out from these as the easiest way to improve safety. "Additionally, children must be secured in a vehicle seat or booster seat". Officers will stop and ticket unbelted drivers or passengers. So, in general, unrestrained occupants who are involved in a crash have, at most, only about a 7% chance of not suffering some degree of injury.

"Did you know someone who was killed in a crash because they did not buckle up?" asked Sheriff Smith. And all because drivers neglect to ensure that each occupant in their vehicle is properly restrained - an activity that requires only seconds to complete. "A seat belt is like insurance". However, adults riding in rear seats are buckling up at a significantly lower rate. Or, consider the rollover crash, which is so much more prevalent on rural roadways than city streets.

"Our law enforcement personnel see firsthand the loss of life when people refuse to buckle up", said Deputy Chief Michael Stevens.

According to TXDOT Public Information Officer, Gene Powell said, "Our mission isn't just to give tickets, our mission is to save lives and we need people to buckle up and remember that, that seat belt can save your life". Participating law-enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night.

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