NHTSA launches annual ‘Click It Or Ticket’ holiday campaign

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined law enforcement officers and national safety advocates on Monday, May 21, to launch the Department of Transportation’s 2012 “Click It Or Ticket” seatbelt enforcement mobilization effort.

This year’s campaign coincides with new advertisements by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that highlight unsafe attempts by drivers to fake seatbelt use. NHTSA data show nationwide more than three million seatbelt citations have been issued during the annual crackdowns over the past five years.

“Thanks to decades of hard work alongside our safety partners, drivers are buckling up when they get behind the wheel,” said LaHood. “But we can’t stop our safety efforts. During last year’s mobilization, law enforcement issued almost 500,000 tickets to drivers who failed to wear a seatbelt. At DOT, we will continue this important work to keep everyone safe on our roadways.”

Through the Memorial Day holiday, about 10,000 law enforcement officers from coast-to-coast will be participating in the “Click It Or Ticket” crackdown. The accompanying advertisements, airing nationally May 14-28, offer a humorous take on techniques attempted by drivers trying to fake seatbelt use, such as the Right Cross Fake, the Front Side Shoulder Sham, the Smooth Glide, the Pledge of Allegiance and the 44 oz. The advertisements target male passenger vehicle occupants ages 18 to 34 years old, a group that comprised 66 percent of unrestrained occupants killed in traffic crashes in 2010 – the highest proportion among all occupants.

“If you try a seatbelt fake-out, chances are you are going to get caught,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Law enforcement officers are trained to spot unbelted drivers at any time of day, and they do not issue fake tickets. Seatbelts save tens of thousands of lives every year, and there is simply no good excuse for not buckling up.”

NHTSA studies show seatbelt use among drivers at 84 percent for 2011. Additional data show that seatbelts have saved thousands of lives each year nationwide. Yet in 2010 alone, 241 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in traffic crashes during the Memorial Day holiday period. Nearly two-thirds of these fatalities occurred at night between the hours of 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. when the risk of being in a crash triples, and 66 percent were not belted.