Washington State Warns: Extra Patrols Are Going on Now, So Click It or Ticket!

OLYMPIA, Wash., Sept. 12 /PRNewswire/ — Between September 12 and September 25, extra law enforcement officers throughout Washington State will be monitoring city streets, rural roads, and interstates looking for drivers who aren’t buckled up for the state’s Click it or Ticket campaign. A ticket for not wearing a seatbelt carries a fine of $101.

During the Click it or Ticket patrols last May, Washington law enforcement officers issued 11,102 seat belt tickets. Studies show that a person wearing a seatbelt has a 70 percent better chance of surviving a crash than a non-belted person. “We’ve made tremendous progress in this area, but we still have room for improvement. Last year in Washington, 43 percent of people who died in fatal crashes were not wearing their seatbelts,” said Lowell Porter, Washington Traffic Safety Commission director.

All law enforcement agencies in Washington, including tribal police, are eligible to sign up for the Click It or Ticket overtime grants. Approximately 110 law enforcement agencies will be participating. The goal of the project is to reduce serious injuries and fatalities from vehicle collisions.

Agencies participating in this current campaign must complete 100 car observational surveys before September 12, and then again after the extra enforcement period ends on September 25. These surveys are designed to measure the impact of the extra seat belt patrols in each area. Agencies conduct the pre/post surveys on the same road, at the same time of day, and on the same day of the week, before and after the campaign, to keep the surveys consistent.

During the past three years, the Click It or Ticket pre/post seat belt surveys have shown that the program works. Before the May/June 2003 enforcement campaign, pre/post surveys showed a 90.6 percent seat belt use rate. After this enforcement campaign, surveys showed an increased seat belt use rate of 95 percent. After the last Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign in May/June 2005, the seat belt use rate climbed back up to 95 percent. Additional research by trained observers is conducted by the Commission.

Once again, Washington has one of the highest seat belt use rates in the United States. “Since we started this project, vehicle occupant deaths have dropped 24 percent, therefore saving about 100 lives per year. This reduction represents a cost savings to the state of about $13 million each year, which is tremendous,” Porter said.

When the Click it or Ticket Project began in 2002, seat belt use in Washington had neared 80 to 82 percent for six years running. The project brought the use rate up to 95 percent where it has stayed, give or take a percentage point, since that time. The national seat belt use rate is 80 percent.

So who are the last 5 percent of Washington’s residents to buckle up? A study by the Commission shows that unbuckled drivers and passengers are predominantly male, and older, over age 40. This conflicts with national research that shows seat belt non-users to be younger (age 21 – 34). Other research findings confirm the national research which shows that unbuckled motorists have worse driving records, more tickets for not having insurance and for license suspensions and DUIs, and are more likely to be driving a pickup truck or older model car.

Vehicle occupant deaths averaged 541 from 1996 – 1999. In 2003 and 2004, the number averaged 435 deaths. “For every death, we estimate about 4.5 serious injuries, so we’ve made great gains in reducing serious injuries, too,” Porter said.

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