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THE ISSUE: – National “Click It, Or Ticket” campaign.
OUR VIEW: – Don't risk it, click it.
If you happen to be among other motorists who sometimes forget or regularly refuse to wear a seat belt, local and state law enforcement officers are on the lookout for you.
The Kentucky State Police, local law enforcement agencies and the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety are joining with peer agencies across the country in an aggressive national seat belt enforcement mobilization. This year, the annual “Click It, Or Ticket” effort — running now through June 1 — will put a special focus on nighttime seat belt use where unbelted fatality rates escalate.
Prior to 2006, all motor vehicle drivers and passengers were required by law to wear a seat belt in Kentucky. However, failure to wear a seat belt back then was a secondary offense. Another infraction had to be committed by a motorists before a law enforcement officer could write them a ticket for not wearing a seat belt.
In July of that year Gov. Ernie Fletcher signed legislation that strengthened Kentucky’s law, changing it to a primary enforcement law. Since then, officers can pull over and cite drivers they see who aren’t wearing a safety belt.
With that change, seat belt usage in the state rose from 67 percent in 2006 to almost 72 percent in 2007. This is good news considering research by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. NHTSA studies have found that wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal and moderate-to-critical injury to front-seat car occupants by 45 percent. Risk reduction tops 60 percent for occupants in pickup trucks, SUVs and mini-vans.
The bad news, though, is that seat belt use by young drivers and their passengers and by motorists of all age groups during nighttime hours still isn’t at the level it should be.
A study by the NHTSA of passenger vehicle fatalities among 16- to 20-year olds occurring in 2006 found that 68 percent weren’t wearing a seat belt during nighttime crashes, while 57 percent weren’t buckled up during daytime crashes. And among drivers of all ages, research has shown that vehicle fatality rates are almost three times higher at night than during the day.
Wearing a seat belt regularly and properly is easily the best way to lower your risk of being critically injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash. Failure to do so could cost you a ticket and fine if caught during the “Click It, Or Ticket” enforcement campaign. It could cost you and your family far more, though, if you’re unfortunate enough to be involved in a vehicle crash. Don’t risk it, click it.
- This editorial represents a consensus of The New-Enterprise editorial board.