When you're not wearing your seat belt, you're risking serious injury or death. And unlike a TV show or a movie, there's no rewinding and no do-overs. From May 22- June 4, law enforcement across McDowell County and across the nation will be stepping up enforcement to crack down on motorists not wearing their seat belts.
In North Carolina and across America, millions of deaths and injuries occur because people don't use safety belts and child passenger safety seats. Research shows that appeals to "do the right thing" don't work for people who don't use safety belts. What gets them to buckle up is high visibility enforcement. That means checkpoints and traffic tickets for drivers not using seat belts.
North Carolina's "Click It or Ticket" program began in 1993 to increase seat belt and child safety use rates through stepped-up enforcement of the state's seat belt law. Nearly every law enforcement agency in the state participates in "Click It or Ticket," one of the most intensive law enforcement efforts of its kind.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belt usage is at 90.1 percent across the nation in 2016, which is an all time high. However, that still leaves almost 10% of motorists traveling on the highway unsecure inside their vehicles.
In 2016, the Click it or Ticket campaign netted 10,444 seat belt citations and 1,213 child safety seat citations across the state.
"These numbers do bother me" stated Sgt.Corey Loftis of the Marion Police Department and County Coordinator for the Governor's Highway Safety Program. "It is not surprising to see the number of seat belt citations across the state, however, the child safety seat violations is absurd. The thought of a child being unrestrained in a vehicle should bother everyone".
In North Carolina, all occupants in the front and rear seats must be restrained no matter the age. The average cost of a seat belt citation is $179.
"We are hoping across the state that by stepping up enforcement and having a zero tolerance approach that more people will help us achieve our goal of every motorist being properly restrained inside the vehicle," stated Loftis.
Chief Allen Lawrence added that in law enforcement we often teach the concept “if it’s predictable it’s preventable”.