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More in News
Police crack down on unbuckled motorists
AREA — In an effort to save more lives on the roadways, local and state law enforcement agencies are always teaming up to crack down on unbuckled motorists.
The Norway Police Department just a couple weeks ago participated in a national "Click-it or Ticket" campaign to enforce seat belt use for the purpose of saving lives, said Norway Police Chief Robert Federico.
But seat belt use is always important, Federico said. And, it's the law.
According to statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts save thousands of lives across America each year.
In 2011 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 11,949 lives, according to NHTSA.
"I think the research speaks for itself on this," said Federico, when asked to describe in his own words why seat belt use is so important.
In the last two years, he said, Norway police responded to 35 personal injury car accidents. All but one of the drivers in those accidents said they were wearing a seat belt when the accident occurred, Federico said.
Within that time frame, he said, there was only one fatality, which is still under investigation.
Nationwide, in 2011, according to NHTSA, 77 percent of passenger vehicle occupants were thrown from their vehicles and killed.
According to Federico, he's seen some pretty "horrific" car accidents where vehicle occupants walk away with minor injuries or none at all because a seat belt was worn.
"After looking over the wreckage it's hard to believe that anyone could survive," Federico said. "In my opinion, it has to be the seat belts and airbags that saved them."
"Wearing seat belts saves lives. This is a fact that has been proven over and over again," Federico said.
NHTSA stats reveal that only 1 percent of crash victims nationwide who were buckled up were completely ejected from their vehicles, compared to 31 percent who were not wearing a seat belt.
Federico said, in 2011, the Norway Police Department wrote 36 tickets and issued 68 warnings for non-compliance of seat belt use. In 2012, he said, the department wrote 27 tickets and 44 warnings.
"It would seem that less tickets means more compliance," Federico presumes, "but we would have to follow the numbers for a few more years to be able to state that with any certainty."
Motorists are 75 percent less likely to get killed in a car accident, especially a rollover, if they are buckled up, according to NHTSA.
According to former Paris Police Officer Michael Dailey, between May 25 and June 3, 2012, the Paris Police Department conducted nine seat belt patrol details.
He said the details were conducted within a 35-hour time frame, during daylight and nighttime hours. Within those 35 hours, Paris police conducted 59 traffic stops – 31 during the day and 28 at night.
"These details resulted in four citations being written for drivers and passengers failing to wear their seatbelts," Dailey said. "Two of which were repeat offenders."
"Click-it or Ticket" campaigns are effective, NHTSA reports. According to NHTSA's 2013 Click-it or Ticket fact sheet, high-visibility enforcement is credited for the increase in seat belt usage nationwide.
The seat belt usage rate has increased from 58 percent in 1994 to an estimated 82 percent in 2012 – "an all-time high rate," according to the NHTSA fact sheet.
Of 21,253 passengers across the U.S. who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2011, nearly half were not wearing their seat belt. Sixty-four percent of teens and young adults, ages 18-34, in fatal crashes in 2011 were not buckled up at the time of their accident.
Along with teens and young adults, pick-up truck drivers and their occupants are most at risk for being involved in a fatal car accident.
According to NHTSA, 65 percent of truck passengers were killed when they were not belted during the time of an accident, compared to 46 percent of passenger car occupants who were killed for failure to buckle up.
Motorists should know that police officers are enforcing the seat belt laws year-round, and around the clock.
"It reminds people to buckle up!" Federico said of the seat belt details.
"We all get complacent at times. This is a good reminder to use your seat belts, especially at the beginning of the summer travel season."