Law enforcement agencies across the country in Oklahoma, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota and others are stepping up to enforce seatbelt laws as part of the national “Click it or Ticket” from May 17 to June 6.
Coordinated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the campaign is an effort among law enforcement to remind people to buckle up.
According to NHTSA stats from 2019, near 10,000 unbuckled passengers were killed in crashes in the U.S. That year in Oklahoma, 208 people who were not wearing a seatbelt were killed in car crashes, while unbelted traffic fatalities in Minnesota reached a 10-year-high.
The Grand Forks Herald said that 31 people in the state died in traffic accidents due to not wearing a seatbelt between January 1 and April 22. This is the highest for Minnesota (a state with usually high seatbelt compliance) since 2012 when 33 people died during the same time frame.
The rise in unbelted traffic fatalities is alarming,” East Grand Forks Rapid Police Department Chief Mike Hedlund said in a statement. “Your decision to drive smart and buckle up can help prevent a lifetime of heartache. It only takes one time to change the course of a family forever. Protect yourself from dangerous drivers and the unexpected on the road by buckling up in every seat, every time you get in the vehicle.”
In Minnesota, the increased seatbelt patrol campaign will be coordinated by Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety using funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Meanwhile in Oklahoma, 55 agencies are participating in the “Click It or Ticket” campaign over the Memorial Day holiday. Director Paul Harris of the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office announced, “During the Click It or Ticket campaign, we’ll be working with law enforcement officers across local and state lines to ensure the message gets out to drivers and passengers.”
KRMG News said that law enforcement is intent on writing citations night and day with a “no excuses policy.”
Commissioner John Scully of the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety further stressed the importance of wearing a seatbelt.
“Wearing a seat belt is the number one thing you can do to help save your life in a crash,” he said. “Oklahoma law requires front seat passengers to wear their seat belt, but we encourage everyone in the vehicle to buckle up.”
Ohio County Sheriff explained the risks of not wearing a projectile. “Unfortunately, you could become a projectile. The vehicle does not move unless everybody has a seatbelt on. I’m the same way. I have a seatbelt on no matter what.”
In West Virginia, the fine for not wearing a seatbelt is only $25 dollars, but worse than a fine is losing one’s life.
Lt. Josh Sanders of the Wheeling Police Department gave his opinion: “I know it’s a huge debate between ‘It’s my civil freedoms, I’m the only one that’s being bothered.’ But, if you are someone that’s important to our community, which you probably are, we want you to buckle your seatbelt and we want you here.”
In Harrisonburg, Virginia, the supervisor of the traffic department Sgt. Wayne Westfall said that over a year’s time from this May, the department issued around 90 seatbelt violation citations. While most people follow the law, some don’t. He gave a warning to those in the minority.
“It’s not so much the ticket is the importance it’s that your life depends on you wearing that seatbelt,” he said.
“People are going to see more police officers, deputy sheriffs enforcing ‘Click It or Ticket.’ Law enforcement officials don’t only write tickets it is also about the educational point of it,” Dayton Police Chief Justin Trout said.
To learn more about the “Click it or Ticket” campaign click here.