Raleigh - North Carolina today kicked off the 23rd year of the state's Click It or Ticket education and enforcement program to remind motorists that wearing a seat belt can save your life. The campaign aims to increase driver seat belt usage rates and reduce fatalities across North Carolina and has yielded significant results over the years. In fact, between 2010 -2014, an average of 545 lives were saved per year due to the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles.
"We are always working to improve the safety of North Carolina motorists and wearing your seat belt is one of the easiest ways to stay safe on the road," said N.C. Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson. "The Click It or Ticket campaign reminds both drivers and passengers that seat belts save lives."
Governor Pat McCrory has stressed the importance of using seat belts, and cited his recent accident in California after the Super Bowl as a good example. He was a passenger in the back seat of a California Highway Patrol car that was rear-ended. The governor credited wearing his seat belt as the reason he was not seriously injured.
Secretary Tennyson joined Highway Patrol Commander Colonel Bill Grey, Governor's Highway Safety Program Director Don Nail and nearly two hundred law enforcement officers to kickoff the campaign. Robert Hassell, president of N.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, and trauma surgeon Dr. Miren Schinco also spoke to the audience about the importance of seat belt safety.
"As the summer travel season begins, we want to remind passengers that it is the law to wear your seat belt in every seat," said Don Nail, director of the Governor's Highway Safety Program. "If you fail to buckle up, at the very least you could receive fines of up to $179 but ultimately you could lose your life if you are involved in a crash."
During the annual national Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign, which begins today, Monday, May 23, and continues through Monday, June 5, motorists will see an increased presence of law enforcement officers day and night across the state to keep those who drive our highways safe. This enforcement period comes ahead of the Memorial Day holiday, one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.
"As Memorial Day approaches, traffic will increase throughout North Carolina. We want to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend," said Colonel Grey. "Please fasten your seat belts, obey the speed limit and don't drink and drive. The choices you make can be difference between life and death."
In 2015, 415 people were killed and an additional 436 others were seriously injured who were not using seat belts in motor vehicle crashes in North Carolina. During that same year, 41.8 percent of passenger vehicle fatalities were unrestrained.
North Carolina law requires all passengers in a vehicle to be properly restrained. Nevertheless, many backseat passengers believe they do not need to use a seat belt. In fact, a recent U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) report confirmed that 22 percent of backseat passengers do not buckle up. The most recent available data revealed that in 2014, 48 percent of backseat passengers in North Carolina that were killed were unrestrained.
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. Another sobering statistic estimates that in fatal crashes, more than three out of four people who are ejected die from their injuries.
To complement the enforcement efforts, the N.C. Department of Transportation and GHSP produced several public service announcements to stress the importance of wearing a seat belt in Every seat, Every time. The advertisements are running on both traditional and non-traditional media through