This May 23 through June 5, Charles County Sheriff’s Office will crack down on motorists who aren’t buckled up as part of the national Click It or Ticket campaign to encourage seat belt usage. In 2009, 23,382 motorists were killed in traffic crashes. 53 percent of fatally injured occupants were NOT wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. High-visibility enforcement efforts, including the Click It or Ticket campaign, have been highly successful in raising awareness and saving lives. As a result, the seat belt usage rate has increased from 58 percent in 1994 to 85 percent in 2010. Even though seat belt usage rates are up, there are too many motorists who still aren’t wearing this life saving device.
Statistics show that nighttime motorists are among the least likely to wear a belt. According to Sheriff Rex Coffey, many nighttime traffic fatalities can be avoided if more individuals simply buckle up. “We will be out in force to remind drivers and occupants to always wear their seat belts – both day and night,” said Coffey. Studies show that passenger vehicle occupants aged 13 to 15 years are the most likely to be unrestrained, followed by those aged 18 to 34. Men are also less likely to wear belts than women.
The Sheriff’s Office provides the following statistics to illustrate the importance of seat belts:
• Seat belts, when used by passenger vehicle occupants 5 and older, saved an estimated 12,713 lives in 2009 – more than 72,000 lives from 2005 through 2009 – and 267,890 lives from 1975 through 2009.
• Worn correctly, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent for front-seat passenger car occupants — and by 60 percent for pickup truck, SUV and van occupants.
• In fatal crashes in 2009, 77 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were thrown from their vehicles were killed. However, only 1 percent of crash victims who were buckled up were totally ejected from their vehicles, compared to 31 percent of those who were unbuckled.
• Motorists are 75 percent less likely to be killed in rollover crashes if they are buckled up.