RALEIGH -This year, North Carolina celebrates the 20th anniversary of "Click It or Ticket," the nation's first seat belt safety campaign. That celebration continues with the release of the state's 2013 seat belt survey numbers. The Governor's Highway Safety Program shows 88.6 percent of North Carolinians are buckling up -a 1.1 percent increase from the 2012 survey.
"This is a strong step forward for highway safety in our state," said Don Nail, director of the Governor's Highway Safety Program. "It's a testament that high visibility enforcement combined with our Click It or Ticket' campaign work, and we're saving lives as a result."
A successful public awareness campaign ran in conjunction with "Click It or Ticket" enforcement. The Governor's Highway Safety Program produced and aired a new public service announcement, "The Sound of Safety," on television and radio stations statewide. It was also viewed 2,100 times on YouTube and downloaded by 24 cable access stations.
Social media was another vital component in reaching the target demographic of 18-34 year olds. The Governor's Highway Safety Program asked citizens to snap a picture of themselves buckled up while parked -called a "#SafetySelfie" -and share it on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Gov. Pat McCrory, NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata and media personalities comprise some of the 60 participants who shared their "#SafetySelfie." In all, the interactive effort reached 1.8 million people on social media.
Stepped-up enforcement, education and the public awareness campaign together made a positive impact on seat belt usage, especially in Columbus County. It saw the biggest improvement -jumping to 90.7 percent this year from 77.9 percent in 2012.
Caldwell and Catawba counties had the highest seat belt usage at 93.8 percent. Mecklenburg County had a seat belt usage rate of 93.4 percent, with Wake County at 88.3 percent. Robeson County had the lowest seat belt usage rate at 82.2 percent.
Female drivers buckled up more often at a rate of 92.4 percent while 87.9 percent of men clicked their seat belts. The youngest drivers on North Carolina highways, ages 16-24, buckled up the least at 85.5 percent.
The annual seat belt survey was conducted throughout the month of June at 120 sites in 15 counties across the state. Trained spotters observed driver and front seat passengers of stopped or nearly stopped vehicles. Observation data was collected during rush hours (weekdays between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. or 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.), non-rush hours (weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.) and on weekends (Saturday or Sunday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.). The Research Triangle Institute certified the survey results last week.
The Research Triangle Institute selects counties that offer a representative sample of North Carolina, based on a variety of criteria including county size and fatality rate.
For more information and survey county results, contact Heather Jeffreys at (919) 707-2665, or visit the GHSP website.