Click it or ticket through Memorial DayPublished 8:26pm Monday, May 20, 2013
On the 20th anniversary of the safety initiative “Click It or Ticket” the North Carolina State Highway Patrol will be out in force through Memorial Day weekend.
Two decades ago, North Carolina was the first state in the nation to launch a seat belt safety awareness campaign and now the Governor’s Highway Safety Program is going tech with it by encouraging people across the state to spread the message via Twitter. The process includes drivers and passengers taking a “safety selfie”— a self-portrait of themselves buckling up and sharing it through social media using the hashtag #SafetySelfie.
“By harnessing the power of social media, we hope to convince the small percentage of people who aren’t buckling their seat belts that it’s the right thing to do,” said interim GHSP director Don Nail, in an email.
According to the GHSP, since it launched “Click It or Ticket” in 1993, the number of reported crashes, fatalities and injuries involving unbelted passengers has dropped dramatically in North Carolina. Law enforcement officers responded to 38,289 crashes involving unbelted passengers in 1992, the year before the campaign started. By 2012, the totals dropped to 8,187.
First Sgt. Brandon Craft said in his jurisdiction, Troop A, District IV, covering Beaufort, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties, troopers give out an average of 100 seat belt citations a week. Though he said many of those cited claim they simply forgot to put their seat belt on, when asked why people would go without, he answered, “I don’t know. That’s a $161 ticket. It’s not a cheap ticket at all.”
Craft said in order to be ticketed an unbelted driver or passenger in a vehicle must be in forward motion on a street or highway. Just buckling the seat belt isn’t enough: a seatbelt must be worn as it’s intended — tucking shoulder straps behind the shoulder doesn’t cut it, he said. Vintage vehicles with only lap belts, or no belts at all, however, are the exception.
While local troopers are always on the lookout for unbelted drivers, Craft said the GHSP initiative means there will be extra enforcement out this week, including checkpoints throughout the four-county area.
“Wear your seat belts and don’t drink and drive this weekend,” said Craft. “There will be more troopers out on the road, so there’s better chances of getting caught. We want to try to catch them before they get hurt or they hurt somebody else.”