Washington, D.C. - As more than 12,000 law enforcement agencies prepare to take to America's roadways for the national Click It or Ticket Mobilization, a new survey shows that 81 percent of the public supports the effort. To amplify the power of the enforcement, $30 million in Congressionally-funded national and state television and radio advertising will be aimed at those least likely to buckle up and most likely to die in a crash-teens and young adults.
The Mobilization, which combines strict enforcement of seat belt laws with targeted advertising, has consistently proven effective in increasing belt use, both nationally and at the state level. New data released today (.pdf download) by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that among young men and women ages 16-24, belt use increased seven percentage points following the focused enforcement/advertising push in May 2003, compared to a four percentage point increase for the population as a whole. National belt use among young men and women ages 16-24 moved from 65-72 percent, and 73-80 percent respectively, while belt use in the overall population increased from 75-79 percent.
"Our young people are not invincible," U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said. "We are committed to doing everything possible to communicate the advantages of safety belts in a way that will make them want to buckle up."
According to preliminary estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,332 passenger vehicle occupants ages 16-20, died in fatal crashes in 2003, compared to 5,625 in 2002. Teens and young adults are nearly twice as likely to be killed in fatal crashes and three times as likely to be injured in a crash compared to the adult population.
The national survey was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign in April, 2004. It surveyed 800 voters and has a margin of error of + 3.46 percent. The survey also found that 83 percent of those surveyed had seen, read, or heard about the Click It or Ticket campaign.
"This survey clearly shows that the Click It or Ticket message has not only reached the masses, and become a part of the American vernacular, it also enjoys overwhelming support," said Chuck Hurley, Executive Director of the National Safety Council's Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign. "Congress deserves tremendous credit for making the Mobilization a priority by allocating the funds for advertising, a well as the Department of Transportation for requesting funds to continue the ad push next fiscal year."
The national television ad that begins airing today on several major networks features people driving in several regions of the country without their seat belts on. In all cases, they receive a ticket, and then buckle up. The ads will be seen primarily in programs that deliver large audiences of teens and young adults- especially men, including Fear Factor, WWF Smackdown, Major League Baseball, NBA Conference Finals, NASCAR Live, and the Indy 500.
"These data released today should resonate among state legislators and help them grasp the life saving benefits of primary seat belt laws," said National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Ellen Engleman Conners. "There is no greater priority for the Safety Board than saving lives on our nation's roadways. "Seat belts are proven to reduce the risk of death in a crash by 45 percent in passenger cars and 60 percent in minivans, SUVs and pickup trucks."
Primary seat belt laws enable law enforcement officers to ticket motorists based solely on an observed seat belt violation, just as they do any other motor vehicle law. According to NHTSA, states that have enacted primary laws on average experienced an 11-percentage point increase in belt use.
During the Mobilization, law enforcement officers will intensify enforcement of seat belt and child passenger safety laws by setting up checkpoints or saturation patrols across the country. Seat belt violators and drivers failing to restrain their child passengers will be ticketed.
"You can call it tough love, but we'd rather write 1,000 tickets, then knock on another door to tell a parent their child isn't coming home," said MaryAnn Viverette, 2nd Vice President, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Chief of the Gaithersburg (MD) Police Department. "So America should be on notice - Click It or Ticket. No exceptions. No excuses. No warnings."
The Mobilization is conducted by NHTSA with support from the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign of NSC, and in conjunction with law enforcement agencies, state highway safety offices, and the National Transportation Safety Board.
The National Safety Council (nsc.org) saves lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the roads through leadership, research, education and advocacy.