Agencies Announce 'Click It Or Ticket' Campaign

May 24, 2011 Updated May 24, 2011 at 11:41 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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Agencies Announce 'Click It Or Ticket' Campaign

May 24, 2011 Updated May 24, 2011 at 11:41 AM EDT

Loudonville, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Motorists who do not wear their seat belts while driving at night are the current focus of the 2011 statewide “Click it or Ticket, Buckle Up New York” campaign that began May 23 and runs through June 5.

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and officials from various state and law enforcement agencies announced the enforcement period today at a press event at New York State Police Troop G headquarters in Loudonville.

“Currently seat belt use during the day is the highest New York State has ever seen, but we still have many more motorists to reach,” said GTSC Chair and Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara J. Fiala. “This particular campaign period is focusing on nighttime enforcement, a time when we are seeing less compliance, to remind motorists of the importance of buckling up both day and night.”

The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research conducted an analysis on reported seat belt use by front seat occupants involved in motor vehicle crashes in New York State between 2007 and 2009. According to those findings, the use rate among males was 11% lower at night and the use rate among females was 12% lower. In fact, seat belt use among front seat occupants injured or killed in motor vehicle crashes was consistently five to six percent lower at night than during the day.

During the statewide May 2010 Click it or Ticket Enforcement, which ran from May 24 through June 6, nearly 22,000 seat belt tickets were written by the State Police. The statewide total from all law enforcement agencies during the same period was more than 51,000.

“The threat of injury and death in a car crash is no different in the day or night, so troopers will be ensuring that safety belts are being worn at all times,” said State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico. “For the next two weeks, troopers, deputies and police officers statewide will be paying special attention to seat belt use at night, and will be conducting checkpoints during day and nighttime hours. Our message is very clear: click it or ticket, day and night. Seat belts save lives.”

“We want our visitors to relax when they come to our parks – but that doesn’t mean taking a break from using safety restraints or child safety seats while driving through our parks,” said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “Our State Park Police officers will fully participate in the ‘Click it or Ticket, Buckle Up New York’ campaign to ensure that visitors to State Parks safely enjoy their trips to our beautiful parks and facilities across the State.

“Wearing a seat belt costs nothing and saves lives,” said Sean M. Byrne, Acting Commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services. “Not wearing a seat belt can cost you a ticket and your life. There are lots of excuses for not wearing a seat belt, and every one of them is a killer. I urge motorists to take control of their life and wear their seat belt every time they get behind the wheel. Yes, doing so is the law. But it’s also smart.”

“Parents are the key to keeping their children safe in the car,” said State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. “The correct use of child safety seats and booster seats for young children, then lap and shoulder belts after age 8, is critical. All children under age 13 are safest in the back seat. Make sure your 8- to 12-year-olds and teens buckle up every time, and don’t start driving until every member of the family is properly buckled. Car crashes are a leading cause of deaths and injuries for 8-12 year olds, and most injuries result from not using seat belts.”

“Emergency physicians see firsthand the tragic consequences of not wearing seat belts,” said Michael Dailey, M.D., Director of pre-hospital care at Albany Medical Center. “The accident victims we see from such situations are often critically injured or left with lifelong injuries. Even worse, many will never make it to the emergency department. Seat belts are the most effective means of reducing death and preventing these serious injuries from occurring.”

“One of the hardest things for me to accept after Joelle’s crash was her role in it,” said Lisa Savard, whose 16-year-old daughter was killed in 2002. “She chose to get in the truck with her friend and not wear her seat belt. That’s the part I still don’t understand. She always buckled up. I want everyone, especially young people, to know that not wearing your seat belt, even one time, can be the difference between life and death.”

Research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that lap/shoulder seat belts, when used properly, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45%and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50%. Seat belt use continues to be higher in states such as New York that have “primary” passenger restraint laws in which vehicle occupants can be stopped, ticketed and fined solely for not wearing seat belts compared to those with weaker, or “secondary” enforcement laws, when law enforcement officers can only issue a ticket for not wearing a seat belt when there is another citable traffic infraction.

According to NHTSA, in 2009 nearly 23,400 occupants of passenger vehicles were killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide, 69% of the 33,808 traffic fatalities reported for the year. Of the more than 21,650 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities for which restraint use was known, more than 11,500 were unrestrained.

More information on New York State’s Seat Belt Law can be found by visiting the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee web site at www.SafeNY.ny.gov or DMV’s web site at www.dmv.ny.gov.