POSTED: Friday, May 11, 2012 - 3:45pm
UPDATED: Friday, May 11, 2012 - 3:49pm
BATON ROUGE, LA — Louisiana and federal traffic safety officials announced today that 127 law enforcement agencies across the state are participating in this year’s Click It or Ticket enforcement and awareness campaign. The May 21 to June 3 seat belt enforcement effort will be the largest of its kind ever conducted in Louisiana.
The participating law enforcement agencies received grants from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission to conduct extra patrols during the Click It or Ticket campaign. The Commission’s grants pay for overtime to deputies, police officers and State Police troopers who conduct special patrols and checkpoints focused on seat belt usage, drunk driving and other violations. The focus will be on seat belt law compliance during Click It or Ticket.
David L. Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, joined Louisiana safety officials in Baton Rouge to announce details of the May 21 to June 3 campaign. The annual Click It or Ticket campaigns coincide with Memorial Day, which, in some years, ranks among the deadliest holidays. According to preliminary data, 15 people were killed in Memorial Day holiday crashes in 2011– more than during any other holiday in Louisiana that year.
“The first thing every driver or passenger should do when they get into a car is buckle up. There is no good reason not to – seat belts save thousands of lives and prevent countless injuries every year," Strickland said. “Working closely with our safety partners, law enforcement and states like Louisiana, we hope to save lives and get more people to buckle up – Click it or Ticket.”
Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said troopers will increase patrols that focus on seat belt violations during the Click It or Ticket campaign.
“One of the saddest duties performed by troopers is having to notify parents, spouses and other relatives that their loved one was killed in a crash,” Edmonson said. “That sadness is compounded when the trooper is aware that the victim might have been saved if he or she had been buckled up.”
Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, said the 127 law enforcement agencies participating in Click It or Ticket will use a variety of tactics designed to increase seat belt use. Besides increased enforcement, Click It or Ticket includes outreach through advertising and media announcements.
“During last year’s Click It or Ticket campaign, officers issued 13,254 seat belt citations. And our law enforcement partners issued a total of 71,069 seat belt tickets during all of 2011," LeBlanc said. “This year, we have more than 100 law enforcement agencies participating in Click It or Ticket, meaning the number of citations will likely increase. We encourage everyone to follow the law and buckle up.”
J.T. Lane, assistant secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, said seat belt usage is an important health issue for Louisiana residents.
“Fastening your seat belt takes but a few seconds to do, but could save your life and the lives of others," said DHH OPH Assistant Secretary J.T. Lane. "DHH encourages Louisianians to work to own their own health, and that includes more than just eating healthy and exercising. It also means adopting healthy habits wherever you go and whatever you do, especially if you are on the road and behind the wheel.”
Motorists in Louisiana who refuse to buckle their seat belts and are involved in crashes cost society $988.8 million in 2010, higher than for alcohol-related crashes, according to the Louisiana State University Highway Safety Research Group.
Louisiana law requires everyone in a vehicle – whether in the front or rear seat – to buckle up. Children must be in age-appropriate safety seats.
An observational survey of Louisiana motorists in 2011 found that 78 percent of drivers and front-seat passengers were buckled up, the highest rate since 1986 when the Commission first started surveying safety belt use. Only 12 percent of motorists were buckling up in Louisiana in the mid-1980s. Seat belt use in Louisiana has traditionally lagged behind the national average, which was 84 percent in the most recent survey.
According to NHTSA, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to critical injuries by 50 percent. Sixty-one percent of the people killed in crashes in Louisiana in 2011 were not buckled up. An estimated eight lives are saved in Louisiana for every one percentage point increase in seat belt use.