Buckling up — and ensuring those ages 16 and under are restrained as well — might save your life and your pocketbook. It’s a message the state’s Highway Patrol troopers are trying to get out in the days and weeks leading up to two massive campaigns aimed at drivers who refuse to obey those all important laws.
“It’s important to buckle up,” asserted Highway Patrol Sgt. Bryan Smith. “We say that all the time, but we hope it resonates with drivers and they take heed of our warnings.” That’s not just to avoid a ticket, the trooper said, but also to prevent loss of lives and limbs in preventable accidents.
Statistics bear out what troopers constantly try to educate citizens about: buckling up saves lives.
Last year alone, there were 13 people killed on Sampson County highways: four of those individuals weren’t wearing seat belts. Of the 13 killed, three were pedestrians, meaning that 40 percent (4 out of 10) of the fatal collisions involved unbelted individuals.
Statewide in 2013, there were 301 people killed with 38 percent of them not wearing seat belts. “As you see, we are slightly above the state average in 2103,” Smith said.
To that end, troopers across the nation will be participating in holiday campaigns aimed at ensuring drivers are belted in and children restrained, or consequences are meted out.
Through the national CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) program, troopers will be out in full force twice during May, all in an effort to stress the significance of buckling up.
“Our goal during this campaign is to have 100 percent compliance with seat belt and child restraint usage,” Smith stressed. “We are always on the lookout for those who are violating the seat belt and child restraint laws, but there will be an even greater emphasis during these two campaigns, to include normal enforcement as well as checking stations.”
The first campaign begins Monday, May 19, and will continue through midnight Monday, May 26. Called the All American Buckle Up Week, the special emphasis will be on child passenger safety and seat belts.
Once that campaign ends, the Memorial Day Weekend campaign kicks into gear, again focusing on child passenger safety and seat belts, although driving while impaired and other traffic violations will be stressed as well.
But the key, through CARE, is seat belt and child restraint safety.
“Failing to wear a seat belt or have your child restrained is first of all deadly and, second of all, costly,” Smith stressed.
Cost for a seat belt citation, including court costs, is $161; anyone under the age of 16 not restrained properly, be it safety seat or belt, would receive a citation costing $263 and two points on their driver’s license.
Both can be avoided and, at the same time, provide greater safety to individuals.
“That’s why we strongly urge everyone to buckle up and make sure their kids are buckled up,” Smith stressed.
Additional CARE campaigns will be conducted throughout the year, including one the week of July 4 through July 6, with special emphasis on impaired driving and another Aug. 29-Sept. 1, with special focus on back to school/child passenger safety.
The goal, Smith said, it not about ticketing someone but about ensuring that motorists travel safely.
“It’s our first priority, the patrol sergeant said.