NHTSA’s Click It or Ticket campaign cracks down on holiday weekend drivers
We’ve made it through another winter and most of us are getting ready for what’s considered the official gateway to summer — the Memorial Day weekend.
But before you pack the car for an out-of-town getaway or make plans for a day trip, remember that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Click It or Ticket” campaign is now in full effect.
That means if you’re driving without a seat belt, the police are watching and if they catch you, then like hundreds of others, you will be ticketed. Now through June 4, state and local officers in Michigan are engaged in zero-tolerance seat belt enforcement in designated traffic zones.
Click It or Ticket is an expensive reminder to put your safety first
No one likes getting a ticket.
But I see the other side of things too often. As an auto accident lawyer and safety advocate, I’ve long supported the Click It or Ticket initiative. This is for several reasons, all of which involve disturbing and eye-opening numbers.
First, it saves lives.
Click It or Ticket is the most successful safety belt enforcement campaign ever. It’s contributed to increasing local and national safety belt usage rates. In 2015, seat belt use in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 13,941 lives!
Research shows when seat belts are used properly, the risk of being killed in a car crash is reduced by nearly 45%. And every 1% increase in belt use means 10 fewer traffic deaths and 130 fewer injuries.
Second, it gives us a reminder that we can do better simply by following the law. The NHTSA reports that in 2015, 9,874 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants were killed in U.S. car crashes — 188 of which took place in Michigan.
Estimates say that if all passenger vehicle occupants age 5 and older involved in fatal crashes had buckled up, 2,804 lives could have been saved nationally. Sadly, the national use rate is only at 90.1%, and nearly 27.5 million people — more than three times the population of the entire state of Michigan — still don’t buckle up.
Third is the number of horrific personal injuries and deaths that I litigate as an auto accident lawyer are when there is no seat belt use. I’ve seen catastrophic injuries in which auto accident victims’ heads are swollen to the size of pumpkins, their eyes shrunk to the size of buttons because of the massive edema. These pictures are hard to forget. The cases I’ve handled are incredibly emotional.
And many could have been avoided or mitigated just by buckling up.
It takes a few extra moments to buckle up. It could have meant the difference between bruising and a ruptured or herniated disc from a crash — or it could mean paralysis. It could mean the difference between a mild traumatic brain injury that resolves in a few weeks — or it could mean a lifetime of disability from a severe brain injury.
A seatbelt won’t stop a car wreck from occurring.
It may not prevent an injury from that wreck.
But it does improve your odds of walking away. The alternative is an event that changes lives — both the crash victim’s and your family’s — forever.
Let’s make Michigan tops for Click It or Ticket
If those reasons aren’t enough to get you to wear your seat belt, I’ll add a fourth: state pride.
In 2009, Michigan had the top seat belt use rate in the nation at 98%. But in 2016, Michigan’s rate was at just 94.5%. What’s stopping us from getting back on top? It’s not an impossible task. All we have to do is put our seat belts on.
Also, this year, the Michigan State Police is issuing a “friendly” challenge to neighboring states Ohio and Indiana, to see which of us three can improve the most in its seat belt usage rate during this year’s Click It or Ticket run.
Think of this from a university sports perspective. If Michigan ranks No. 1 this year for seat belt use, in a sense we’d be beating rival schools Ohio State and Notre Dame.
OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but it’s incentive nonetheless.
So please follow the Michigan seat belt law, which states:
- All front seat passengers must be buckled up.
- All passengers younger than age 16 must be buckled up, in all seating positions.
- All children younger than age 8 must be in an approved child safety seat or booster seat, in all seating positions, unless they are 4′ 9″ tall.
With that, our entire team of Michigan Auto Law attorneys and fantastic staff would like to wish everyone a great holiday weekend and remind you to buckle up.