JEFFERSON CITY - Buckling up only takes seconds, but these seconds could save your life in a traffic crash.
That's why the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety is joining with state and local law enforcement during mid-May through Memorial Day for an aggressive national "Click It or Ticket" program to crack down on unbelted drivers and save lives. Missourians also will be reminded to buckle up through state and national advertisements.
"We are proud to participate in these statewide enforcement programs," said Capt. Tim Hull of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. "Even as we enforce traffic laws, officers are also trying to educate the public about the importance of safe and responsible driving. This part of our job is very important as we don't want to lose a single member of our state and our communities in a traffic crash."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 31,415 passenger vehicle occupants died in traffic crashes in 2005. More than half of them were NOT wearing their seat belts. In Missouri in 2006, 70 percent of the 1,095 people who died in traffic crashes were not wearing their seat belts.
Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15 to 20 year olds in America. Of the total fatalities in 2005, more than 5,000 were passenger vehicle occupants between the ages of 15 and 20 - and 62 percent of those killed were NOT wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash.
"Many drivers take the attitude that ‘it will never happen to me,' especially teens, but fatal crashes happen every day to all types of people," said MoDOT Director of Highway Safety Leanna Depue. "We want to make sure everyone is buckled up - day and night."
Wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to reduce injuries and fatalities in a crash because it provides protection from being ejected and keeps motorists from smashing into windshields, dashboards and other passengers. When worn correctly, seat belts have proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers by 45 percent and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans. Yet, according to NHTSA, nearly one in five Americans still fails to regularly wear their seat belts when driving or riding in a motor vehicle.
"Seat belts clearly save lives, but unfortunately too many folks still need a tough reminder," Depue said. "Wearing your seat belt costs you nothing and not wearing it can cost you everything. So unless you want to risk a ticket, or worse - your life, please remember to buckle up to arrive alive."