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May 13, 2008 (LITTLE ROCK) – The Arkansas State Police and local law enforcement agencies are targeting safety belt traffic enforcement operations in an attempt to reduce the number of nighttime fatal motor vehicle crashes. According to an analysis of crash reports from all Arkansas law enforcement agencies, 303 traffic crash deaths occurred during calendar year 2006 between the hours of 6 PM and 5:59 AM. The analysis also indicates that 82 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants killed were not wearing safety belts. According to Colonel Winford E. Phillips, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative, the proportion of deaths among motor vehicle occupants who were not wearing safety belts is 24 percentage points higher in nighttime crashes than daytime crashes. “That’s why the Arkansas State Police and local police and sheriff’s offices across the state are uniting today to launch an aggressive “Click It or Ticket – Day & Night” safety belt enforcement mobilization,” Colonel Phillips said. The goal of the two-week enforcement campaign, which begins May 19th and continues through the Memorial Day holiday, is to increase safety belt use and reduce highway fatalities. “Research shows that there is a problem with drivers and passengers not buckling up at night when the risk of a fatal crash is greatest. Clearly this is an indication that these individuals are not taking the law seriously and that’s why we’ll be out in force making sure that all passengers, in all vehicles, are buckled up – day and night,” Colonel Phillips said during a news conference today at State Police Headquarters. Regular safety belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes. When worn correctly, safety belts have proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and by as much as 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs, and minivans. Still nearly one-third of Arkansans fail to regularly wear their safety belts when driving or riding in motor vehicles. According to state law, drivers who are stopped by law enforcement officers for a moving or equipment violation can also be ticketed if the officer observes a safety belt violation. Drivers who do not properly restrain children under the age of 15 can be stopped at any time and ticketed for the violation. Stepped-up law enforcement activities will be conducted during the Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilization, which is being supported by an aggressive paid advertising campaign that will include television and radio spots as well as billboards. “Safety belts clearly save lives, but unfortunately, too many people still need a tough reminder. So we’re going to be out in force buckling down on those who are not buckled up,” Colonel Phillips said. “Wearing your safety belt costs you nothing, but not wearing it can cost you everything. Unless you want to risk a ticket, or worse, your life; please remember to buckle up day and night.” For more information log onto the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration web site at www.nhtsa.dot.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.