Federal highway safety officials have launch their annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign this month, which is designed to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries suffered in auto accidents, by promoting seat belt use and increasing enforcement efforts on existing seat belt laws throughout the nation.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign began this week, and will run through June 4, 2017.
The enforcement effort brings together more than 10,000 police and law enforcement agencies across the nation, with a common goal of informing drivers about the importance of seat belt use, and encouraging local and state law enforcement agencies to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for seat belt use.
“Click it or Ticket” will encompass law enforcement efforts on the roadways as well as using national media across a variety of channels, including TV, radio, internet, and social media.
The NHTSA has been working with state and other federal agencies on the campaign since 2003, running advertisements and promoting seatbelt use and education each year in an attempt to reduce preventable vehicle crash fatalities.
This year, additional efforts will include a one evening “Border-to-Border” enforcement operation in 22 states, which will run from 4:00pm to 8:00pm on May 22. The operation is designed to kick off this year’s effort by warning motorists about increased checkpoints at well-traveled state border sites.
Since the commencement of the campaign in 2003, seatbelt awareness has increased significantly, however, males between the ages of 18 and 34 years of age are still the least likely to wear seat belts. Despite the improvements in awareness and education, there is still much room for improvement, according to vehicle fatality data.
Researchers from the NHTSA identified that nearly half, or 48%, of the 22,441 vehicle occupants killed in crashes during the 2015 year were unbuckled, almost mirroring the number of unbelted occupants in 2014, indicating that despite an increase in motorists across the nation, the fatality rate per crash seems to be mostly unchanged.
According to the NHTSA, seat belt use increased in the U.S. in 2014 to an all-time high of 88.5%. However, additional data collected from 2014 indicated that 21,022 passengers of motor vehicles were killed and more than 11,000 of those were not wearing a seat belt.
Researchers found the most significant injuries and the majority of fatalities resulted from vehicle ejections, which could have been significantly reduced or mitigated has occupants and drivers been wearing their seatbelts. In all fatal crashes in 2015, about 80% of passenger vehicle occupants who were completely ejected from the vehicle were killed, whereas only 1% of the occupants who were fully belted were ejected from the vehicle.