Today we join law enforcement and traffic safety advocates across the Commonwealth of Virginia in support of the Click It or Ticket program. The program is a high visibility enforcement program designed to raise seat belt usage and save people from death and serious injuries on our streets and highways. The campaign consists of strict enforcement and educational efforts.
The Board consists of traffic safety advocates from both public and private sectors and each will be bringing their own unique, discipline specific approach to increase seat belt use in the region. The law enforcement agencies represented by the Board will be conducting numerous saturation patrols and checkpoints to enforce Virginia's occupant protection laws while other advocates will be promoting seat belt and proper child seat use through electronic media and multiple events and speaking engagements.
"If you're not buckled up, you will get a ticket, warned Chief Howard Hall. "Though Virginia's law enforcement enforces occupant protection laws throughout the year, there will be strong emphasis on aggressive enforcement during the campaign. We will be out around the clock in a coordinated effort to increase seat belt use and save lives."
Last year 54% of all traffic fatalities in Virginia, or 310 persons, were unrestrained drivers and passengers while another 3,889 were injured. Also, 118 (38%) of the unrestrained deaths were young people ages 21 to 35, and 73% were males. Almost half of the unrestrained fatalities, 144 (or 46%), occurred between the hours of 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. and 24% of the unbelted drivers had been drinking.
“Working in the field of trauma services, I have seen first hand the serious injuries and deaths that occur when unrestrained occupants are involved in a crash,” said Dan Freeman, Carilion Trauma Outreach Coordinator. “Unrestrained occupants suffer significant injuries and death when they strike the interior of a vehicle, another occupant, or are thrown from the vehicle. Seat belts and child seats are the best defense in a crash and save thousands of lives every year.”
Virginia's statewide seat belt use rate was 79.7% for 2013 and the goal is to increase that rate to 82.5% in 2014. Almost half of Virginia's road deaths could be avoided with seat belt and proper child seat use. "The correlation is simple: increased seat belt use means fewer deaths and fewer trips to the emergency room," said Mr. Freeman.
"The warnings are over. If you are caught not wearing your seat belt by one of our officers, deputies, or troopers you will get a ticket,” said Chief Hall. "We will be conducting saturation patrols day and night to identify unrestrained occupants from the busiest downtown to the lesser traveled rural roads in our region. The message is simple- Click It or Ticket."
For the past 25 years, the mission of the BRTSB has been to coordinate and promote traffic safety programs, projects, and educational initiatives while providing a professional network for guidance and support within the region. The BRTSB is composed of traffic safety advocates from both public and private sectors.