Big Stone Gap police officers Darcie Flanary and Jason Peters remind motorists of the importance of buckling up. PHOTO BY GLENN GANNAWAY. Click Here
to order photo reprints
As motorists take to the road this Memorial Day holiday, Big Stone Gap police are urging everyone to buckle up, noting that more than half of the people killed in vehicle accidents nationwide in 2011 were not wearing seat belts.
Big Stone Gap police are out in full force checking seat belt use through the June 2 conclusion of this year’s Click It or Ticket mobilization. And the numbers demonstrate the importance of buckling up: 52 percent of the 21,253 passenger vehicle occupants killed nationwide in 2011 were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says. And seat belt non-use is more prevalent at night: NHTSA reports that 62 percent of the 10,135 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2011 between the hours of 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. were not wearing seat belts.
“As we kick off the busy summer driving season, it’s important that everyone buckles up every time they go out, both day and night — no excuses,” Big Stone Gap Police Officer Darcie Flanary said. “Our officers are prepared to ticket anyone who is not wearing their seat belt — click it, or ticket.”
Seat belts saved an estimated 11,949 lives nationwide in 2011, the NHTSA says. And while Click It or Ticket mobilization runs through June 2, police officers enforce seat-belt laws year-round.
“Seat belts save thousands of lives every year, but far too many motorist are still not buckling up, especially at night when the risk of getting in a crash is even greater,” Flanary said. “Unfortunately, our pre-mobilization survey this year showed that only 44 percent of drivers in Big Stone Gap were wearing seat belts. We want everyone to have a safe summer, but it requires an important step on the part of motorists — clicking that seat belt.”
The Click It or Ticket campaign began Monday, May 20.
Stressing the need to buckle up, Big Stone Gap police noted that:
• Nationwide, 77 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were thrown from their vehicles were killed in fatal crashes in 2011. But only 1 percent of crash victims who were buckled up were totally ejected from their vehicles, compared to 31 percent of those who were not belted.
• Motorists are 75 percent less likely to be killed in a rollover crash if they are buckled up.
• Click It or Ticket works. High-visiblity enforcement is credited with increasing the national seat belt usage rate from 58 percent in 1994 to an estimated observed usage rate of 86 percent in 2012 — an all-time high rate.