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Highway Safety Office Launches ‘Click It or Ticket’ to Help Save Lives: ENFORCEMENT EMPHASIS ON NIG
May 14, 2007
- There is a greater likelihood Arkansans are not using safety belts during their nighttime travels along the state highways and city streets. During 2005 there were 234 individuals who lost their lives in Arkansas traffic crashes while traveling in a passenger vehicle between the hours of 6 PM and 5:59 AM.
More than three-fourths of the victims (76%) were not using their safety belts. Nationally the number of fatalities from the same reporting period and hours of travel amounted to more than 15,000 deaths. A statistical analysis from the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that safety belt use declines dramatically during nighttime hours. The proportion of unbuckled deaths at night is significantly higher than the 61 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were not wearing their seat belts and were killed in 2005 during daytime hours in Arkansas.
During a news conference today at Arkansas State Police Headquarters, Major Ed Wolfe, commander of the department’s Highway Patrol Division, announced that participating law enforcement agencies across the state will be out in force from May 21 through June 3 joining other agencies nationwide in the “Click It or Ticket” enforcement mobilization.
“We will be stepping up enforcement of seat belt laws, day and night, to save lives,” Wolfe said. “I urge all Arkansans to remind their family and friends who don’t wear seat belts to click it or expect a ticket.”
There are clearly greater challenges while driving after sunset attributed to driver fatigue, diminished depth of field (vision) problems and drunk drivers. “Many nighttime drivers have the opinion that ‘it can’t happen to me,’ but the risk of a fatal crash actually goes up significantly at night,” Wolfe said.
According to Arkansas State Troopers, the consistent use of seat belts is the single most effective way to protect Arkansans involved in traffic crashes; young and old; in pickups and cars; in town and country; day and night. “Buckling up is the law in Arkansas – and we will be enforcing the law with additional patrols to help save lives,” Wolfe stated.
According to NHTSA, when worn correctly, safety belts are proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and mini-vans. They are especially effective in rollover crashes, up to 80 percent effective in SUV or pickup truck rollovers.
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said well-tested programs like Click It or Ticket’s high visibility seat belt enforcement have helped states make significant progress in safety belt use.
“Over the last five years since the Click It or Ticket seat belt mobilizations began in Arkansas, seat belt use is at an all-time high – more than 69 percent,” McDaniel said. “However, Arkansas continues to trail behind the rest of the nation’s average of 81 percent. That translates into hundreds of preventable deaths and injuries each year. That’s unacceptable, and that’s what we need to change. This is a call to action for all Arkansas motorists to abide by the law, drive safely and buckle your seat belt, Day and Night.’”
Sarah Bottoms, a Springdale mother of a teenage daughter who was not buckled up and was killed in a car crash, spoke at the news conference about the importance of young people buckling up.
“Young drivers are dying needlessly in traffic crashes,” Bottoms said. “Of all the risks a young driver encounters every day, one of the greatest dangers he or she faces is being killed or severely injured in a car crash.”
Seventy-nine young Arkansas motorists ages 16-20 were killed in car crashes in 2005. Of those, where use was known, 79 percent were not wearing their safety belt.
“The message is simple: Wearing your seat belt is the law,” Bottoms said. “If you won’t buckle up to save your life, then buckle up to save yourself a ticket.”
For more information about the value of safety belts, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site at www.nhtsa.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office (501) 618-8136.