Washington, D.C. - Law enforcement across the country will seek to reduce the death toll over this Thanksgiving holiday by cracking down on people who don't buckle up. While seat belt use has been increasing, the National Safety Council still estimates 556 people may die and 30,000 may be seriously injured in traffic crashes during the holiday weekend. In an effort to lower those numbers, law enforcement agencies around the country are preparing to take to America's roadways for the Click It or Ticket Mobilization.
"We know that high visibility enforcement increases seat belt use and saves lives," said Chuck Hurley, Vice President at NSC and Executive Director, Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today released further evidence of the importance of high visibility enforcement campaigns in a report of observational surveys conducted by 51 states and territories in 2004. In addition to several states experiencing record seat belt use rates, the report shows states/territories with stricter belt enforcement laws continue to exhibit higher belt use than those with weak secondary laws.Highlights of the state surveys found:
- Seven states and territories achieved use rates of 90% or higher, namely Arizona, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, California, and Puerto Rico.
- Arizona, Hawaii, Michigan, and Nevada exhibited the greatest improvement, each reducing belt nonuse by 30% or more during the period 2003 - 2004.
- Jurisdictions with stricter belt enforcement laws continue to exhibit generally higher belt use rates than those less able to enforce their laws. In fact, 12 of the 15 states at or above 85% seat belt use rate have primary enforcement laws.
- Eight secondary enforcement states still have abysmally low seat belt usage rates below 70 percent.
Currently, primary seat belt laws cover 60 percent of the United States population. 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.
"As a result of stronger seat belt laws and strong enforcement of those laws, the national seat belt use rate is at a record high of 80 percent," added Hurley. "High visibility enforcement and enactment of primary enforcement laws are the best proven ways to reduce fatalities on our roadways."
To help prevent unnecessary deaths on the road, law enforcement across the country will be out in force to conduct the Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign. During the Click It or Ticket Mobilization, law enforcement officers will intensify enforcement of seat belt and child passenger safety laws and seat belt violators will be ticketed.
"As law enforcement officials, our mission is to protect and serve. Unfortunately, not everyone does the right thing by wearing his or her seat belt. We don't enjoy writing tickets, but we know they are the best way to get people to buckle up," said Joseph Estey, President of the International Chiefs of Police and Chief of the Hartford, VT Police Department. "We would rather write a ticket than have to knock on a parent's door to tell them their child is not coming home.
So America should be on notice - Click It or Ticket. No exceptions. No excuses. No warnings."
The National Safety Council (www.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.