Troopers to check seatbelts


Staff Writer

Friday, May 25, 2018

Buckle up because local law enforcement agencies are joining the State Highway Patrol for the 25th annual Click It or Ticket campaign this Memorial Day weekend.

Seatbelt usage has increased dramatically statewide in comparison to what it was when the program was first introduced a quarter-century ago, said Jonathan Bandy, a spokesman for the state Transportation Department.

Today, the compliance rate for seat belt usage exceeds 91 percent, which translates into more lives being saved and fewer injuries received as a result of motor vehicle collisions, Bandy said.

“As various agencies and organizations across North Carolina collectively pursue the goal of achieving Vision Zero, or no loss of life on our roadways, the simple act of fastening a seat belt serves as a significant preventative measure for helping us reach this goal,” Bandy said.

Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for adolescent and young adult drivers, Tarboro Police Chief Jesse Webb said in a news release.

“The few seconds that it takes to buckle a seat belt reduces the likelihood of being killed or seriously injured during a crash by almost 50 percent,” Webb said. “Such statistics demand our attention, and we strongly encourage all drivers and occupants to comply with the law by fastening your seat belt every time you get in a vehicle.”

Buckling up is part of being a defensive driver. Everyone needs to be defensive with so many distracted drivers on the road, said Cpl. Brad Summerlin of the Rocky Mount Police Department.

“Always be vigilant when driving because there are so many drivers out there who are distracted by other things,” Summerlin said.

State Transportation Department spokesman Sean Williams said motorists should avoid distracted driving, especially in hectic holiday traffic.

“When drivers stop focusing on the road ahead, they react more slowly to traffic conditions and are more likely to be involved in an accident,” Williams said. “While you are traveling this Memorial Day weekend, your job is to be a safe driver. Focus on the road and let everything else wait until you arrive at your destination.”

It’s more important than ever to remind North Carolinians to wear their seat belt and properly restrain their children. While deaths among people not wearing seat belts have slightly decreased 4.5 percent from this time last year. Unrestrained serious injuries increased by 32 percent in North Carolina from 2016 to 2017, Bandy said.

North Carolina law requires all passengers in a vehicle to be properly restrained and violations are punishable by fines of up to $179. Children younger than 8 years old must be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they’re more than 4-feet, 9-inches tall. If they aren’t properly restrained, the driver faces fines up to $250 plus court costs.

The Click It or Ticket campaign runs through June 3.