In 2010, if everyone age 5 and older in a passenger vehicle had worn seat belts, 3,341 lives could have been saved. That's according to the latest Safety In Numbers snapshot from our National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
That's why NHTSA is urging Americans to buckle up--every trip and every time. And that's the message we're sending with our 2013 "Click It or Ticket" seat belt enforcement effort.
Every year during the Memorial Day Weekend holiday period, law enforcement agencies join forces day and night, from coast-to-coast, for an enforcement blitz that delivers on our message, Click It or Ticket. At the same time, safety organizations like NHTSA launch a wave of public service announcements all with the same goal--encouraging Americans to buckle up for safety.
Since the first seat belt campaign was launched in 1985, we’ve made great strides. In 2012, a record high of 86 percent of people in a passenger vehicle chose to fasten their seat belt. These folks recognize that it takes only three seconds to buckle up, and the benefits can last a lifetime.
But we still have work to do.
Seat belt use at night, for example, lags behind daytime use. We know that the risk of being involved in a serious crash increases at night. Yet, the percentage of people buckling up at night is actually lower than during the day. In 2011, 62 percent of motorists who died in a crash that occurred at night were unrestrained, compared to 43 percent of those who died in a crash during the day.
So this year, we are asking nighttime drivers in particular to buckle up, and reminding them that we enforce seatbelt use day and night.
As NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, “Law enforcement officers across the country will be out day and night handing out tickets to unbuckled motorists. We hope our Click It or Ticket efforts will encourage more motorists to buckle up and make it a lifelong habit."
Given the numbers, that hope makes good sense. According to a 2011 NHTSA survey, most people do buckle up when they know that law enforcement officers have begun writing more tickets. And many drivers continue the habit after the heightened enforcement period ends.
Of course, the best reason to buckle up isn't to avoid a ticket; it's to protect your safety. That's a message I hope you'll remember...day and night.