May 14, 2009

Buckle Up or Get Buckled Down

Nearly one in four Missourians still fail to regularly wear their safety belts when driving or riding in a motor vehicle.

The Scotland County Sheriff’s Department announced this week that it is joining with law enforcement agencies across the nation in an aggressive “Click It or Ticket” mobilization to crack down on Missouri’s safety belt law violators in an effort to reduce highway fatalities. The enforcement project is scheduled for May 18-31.

Failure to regularly wear a safety belt can be deadly. In 2007, a driver in a Missouri traffic crash had a one in 32 chance of being killed if they were not wearing a seat belt. In cases where the driver wore a seat belt, their chance of being killed was one in 1,294.

“Wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to reduce injuries and fatalities in a crash because it provides protection from being ejected and keeps motorists from smashing into windshields, dashboards and other passengers,” said Deputy Bryan Whitney.

Overtime funding grants from Highway Safety Division of MoDOT allow law enforcement to increase its presence during special enforcement operations, such as Click It or Ticket.

This year the campaign will also be cracking down on child safety seat violations. When drivers are not buckled up, 30 percent of children were not restrained either. When the driver was buckled up, only two percent of the children weren’t restrained.

“A zero-tolerance policy for non-compliance with the seat belt law will be observed by troopers throughout this operation, as it is throughout the year, to raise seat belt use awareness and compliance,” said Colonel James F. Keathley, Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. “Every time you get into a vehicle, you are at risk of being involved in a traffic crash. Give yourself and your loved ones a chance to survive, buckle up.”

Seven out of 10 Missourians killed in traffic crashes are unbuckled. In 2008, 489 people killed in traffic crashes were not wearing a safety belt.

“You are gambling with your life each time you drive without a safety belt,” said Leanna Depue, chair of the executive committee of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. “Wearing a safety belt can save your life. Wearing your seat belt costs you nothing and not wearing it can cost you everything.”

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