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Buckling Up Can Save Your Life

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In California, it’s time to be reminded again of seat belt and child restraint laws. The California Office of Traffic Safety and law enforcement agencies throughout the state provide public education and enforcement of these laws. Why is there so much concern? Here are some statistics.

According to Sgt. Rob Hanson in the Whittier Police Department in California, the year 2009 showed “23,382 occupants of passenger cars, pickup trucks, vans and SUVs killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide.” Of those fatally injured vehicle occupants, fifty-three percent of them were not wearing any seat belt at the time of the crash.

For all other drivers and passengers in motor vehicles who were not part of these findings but still did not use seat belts, it is likely that they were ticketed for not be properly buckled up. If they were ticketed, they either had increased auto insurance rates or they took an online drug and alcohol school to clear a DUI and traffic ticket.
When the Click It or Ticket campaign was introduced in 2005, the goal was the reduction of California’s contribution to these national statistics. Since the program began in 2005, the Click It or Ticket campaign “is directly responsible for raising seat belt usage in California from 90.4 percent in 2004 to 96.2 percent in 2010,” according to Sgt. Hanson. You might say that this is not significant.

However, this equates to more than 1.25 million more people using their seat belts on a regular basis. Even over the 2009-2010 year, the percentage jump, according to Sgt. Hanson, was from “95.3 percent in 2009 to 96.2 percent in 2010.” This shows that the program is working and must continue.

If we look on a national level, seat belt usage that has been reported by the National Highway Safety Administration shows that passenger vehicle occupants age 13 to 15 years old have the highest percentage (67 percent) of all age groups to be fatally injured and unrestrained in traffic crashes.

As a result, The Click It or Ticket campaign is specifically targeting teen seat belt use and the use of child restraints in the most recent years. Although improvements have been reported in both teen seat belt usage and child safety seat usage, there is still room for more.

Increased punishment for violators of these laws has been adopted. Currently, if children under age 6 are not properly secured in a vehicle, the driver or parent can get one point added to their driving record, in addition to getting a fine as well. Although the driver or parent could check with their nearest motor vehicle office regarding qualifications to clear a traffic ticket by taking an online traffic school course. To sum up, increased legislation is dropping the responsibility upon the driver of the vehicle, and is requiring motor vehicle drivers to make sure that all vehicle occupants are buckled up. Lives can be saved by this simple act.