Law enforcement agencies across North Carolina have officially kicked off the 25th year of the Click It or Ticket program, reminding motorists of safety on the highways during this holiday weekend.
Locally, the Clinton Police Department, as well as Highway Patrol officers, are asking citizens to ensure maximum safety by wearing a seat belt to help prevent injuries when involved in an accident.
“We are participating in the campaign for the holiday weekend because of the volume of traffic and the increased likelihood of accidents,” Clinton Police chief Don Edwards said. “However, we want to encourage everyone, at all times, to wear their seats belts and properly use child safety restraints.”
The annual Memorial Day Click It or Ticket campaign takes place through June 3, concurrent with one of the busiest holiday travel weekends of the year. Law enforcement across the state will be citing motorists who are not properly belted.
According to Edwards, all drivers, front seat passengers and back seat passengers ages 16 and older must wear their seat belts. The driver of a vehicle is responsible for themselves and passengers under the age of 16, who additionally are required to wear seat belts or proper safety restraints. Edwards and his team took to Facebook to share a reminder of the annual campaign and state law.
“The post was a reminder, as well as a teaching to tool, of the facts of the effects of non-compliance to basic driving and passenger safety laws that are put in place not to catch those doing wrong but to help save lives in the event of an accident,” Edwards explained.
In an effort to stress the importance of back seat passengers buckling up, the DOT estimates that people not wearing a seat belt in either the front or back seat of a vehicle are 30 times more likely to be ejected during a crash. According to the DOT, another sobering statistic estimates that in fatal crashes, more than three out of four people who are ejected die from their injuries.
The N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program is partnering with state and local law enforcement for its annual Memorial Day Click It or Ticket campaign that will takes place May 21 through June 3, concurrent with one of the busiest holiday travel weekends of the year. Law enforcement will be citing motorists who are not properly belted.
Edwards and fellow officers are saying it’s more important than ever to remind North Carolinians to wear their seat belt and properly restrain their children. According to the United States Department of Transportation fatal traffic crash data, there were 10,428 unbelted fatalities in 2016. In 2017 the number of unrestrained serious injuries increased in North Carolina from 583 in 2016 to 857 and unrestrained fatalities decreased from 449 to 412 in that same period.
“As the summer months begin, I would encourage motorists to allow more time for traveling, because there are going to be more people on the roads and it will take more time,” Edwards said. “Motorists need buckle up, don’t drink and drive, increase their following distance and use the proper restraints.”
North Carolina law requires all passengers in a vehicle to be properly restrained or receive a traffic violation, which is punishable by fines of up to $179. Children younger than 8 years must be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they’re taller than 4 feet 9 inches. If they aren’t properly restrained, the driver faces fines up to $250 plus court costs.
The Click It or Ticket initiative marks its 25th anniversary this month. When it launched in May 1993, only 64 percent of North Carolinians used their seat belt. Today nearly 92 percent buckle up.
Highway Patrol officers encourage motorists to be safe throughout the summer and recommend the following safety tips to drivers and passengers:
• Buckle up;
• Don’t drink and drive;
• Obey the posted speed limit;
• Keep a safe following distance;
• Turn on your headlights in the rain; and
• Put away all distractions including cell phones.