Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood stands with Cpl. Jon Segroves of the Albany Police Department Monday to launch the “Click It or Ticket” program.
ALBANY — Law enforcement officials say motorists who, for one reason or another, don’t wear their seat belts will need to be more careful this month since the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) has now launched its annual mobilization of “Click It or Ticket,” as well as its “100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T.”
The “Click It or Ticket” national campaign began Monday in Georgia. As part of that effort, all motorists — even if they are passing through on vacation — can expect a ticket if they don’t wear a safety belt, officials say.
“We know using seat belts reduces fatalities and serious injuries (in car accidents),” GOHS Director Harris Blackwood said Monday at an Albany news conference. “We want to make sure people go on trips and get home safely because they are wearing their seat belts.”
Hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the state are expected to be partnering with GOHS to crack down on those not wearing seat belts. Among them will be the Albany Police Department, which will be one of the agencies expected to conduct more road checks over the next few months.
“Wearing seatbelts does increase the likelihood of surviving a serious crash,” said APD Cpl. Jon Segroves. “(If children are restrained), they will be more likely to wear seat belts as adults and instill that behavior in their children.”
Segroves said that Albany, at last count, had a 90 percent seatbelt compliance.
A news release from GOHS gives statistics on traffic fatalities associated with seat belt use. In 2010, 423 people older than age 5 were killed in crashes in which they were unrestrained. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that 61 percent of the 10,647 people killed in car crashes between 6 p.m.-6 a.m. across the country in 2010 were not wearing seat belts.
This is compared to 42 percent during daytime hours, officials say.
The NHTSA also says that, in Georgia’s rural counties, 60 percent of traffic fatalities are those who are unrestrained. Pickup truck occupants in Georgia are thought to have the lowest seatbelt usage rate behind cars, sport utility vehicles and vans.
While law enforcement will be watching for adults who are not buckled up, officers say they will also be looking out for children who appear to be improperly restrained.
“Seat belt laws have been in effect for a long time,” said Lt. Buddy Johnson of the Georgia State Patrol. “The good news is that we have less fatalities, but children (when it comes to vehicle restraints) don’t have a choice in the matter — the adult does.
“If the adult does not do their part, we will have to.”
Further statistics from NHTSA show that, in 2010 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 12,546 lives nationwide. Roughly 22,000 were reportedly killed in traffic crashes in 2010, 51 percent of whom were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.
The “Click It or Ticket” campaign in Georgia will run through June 3.
At the same time, for the ninth consecutive season, officials say patrols across all Georgia counties are cracking down on aggressive and high-speed drivers through the “100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. (Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic).”
The multi-jurisdictional highway safety enforcement strategy is designed to reduce fatal crash counts during the period from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The H.E.A.T. campaign, which has been in Georgia since 2004, also launched on Monday.
Officials with GOHS report that, across the state in 2010, there were 217 speed-related fatalities. Among drivers age 21 and older in all fatal crashes, those who were not speeding were twice as likely to be wearing seat belts than those who were speeding at the time of their crash.
National research shows Georgia drivers are among the highest illegal speeders in the country, officials say.
H.E.A.T. will run through Sept. 3.
For more information, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org.