Virginia Highway Safety Office News ReleasesFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Media Contact: Mary Ann Rayment
Department of Motor Vehicles
Virginia Law Enforcement Buckling Down on Those Not Buckling Up
Click It or Ticket Mobilization to Help Save Lives
RICHMOND - For anyone who complains about getting a ticket for not buckling up when driving or riding in a motor vehicle, here's a crash course in reality from DMV's Virginia Highway Safety Office (VAHSO):
In 2008 preliminary data, there were a total of 821 fatalities on Virginia's roadways.
- Of those, 631 of the fatalities occurred in vehicles equipped with seat belts.
- 342 people or 54 percent were not wearing restraints.
- 61 percent of the total unbelted fatalities occurred between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
"While these may sound like just statistics, those numbers represent mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles and friends who have been lost forever," said VAHSO Director John Saunders. "These losses may have been prevented had a loved one worn a seat belt."
That is why the VAHSO, in partnership with law enforcement across Virginia and the nation, will team up to aggressively enforce all traffic laws -- especially seat belt and child safety seat laws -- during the Click It or Ticket Enforcement Mobilization from May 18 through 31.
"The good news is that we have seen an increase in seat belt use in Virginia," Saunders said. "In 2008, Virginia recorded its highest seat belt use rate ever at 80.6 percent. However, we are still below the national average of 83 percent. That's why we must insist that everyone in Virginia wear a seat belt every time they get into a motor vehicle."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts are the single most effective piece of safety equipment in a vehicle, yet nearly one out of five Americans still fails to wear a seat belt. When worn correctly, seat belts have proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent, and by 60 percent for front passengers in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans.
"This is an issue that we must take seriously in Virginia," Saunders said. "The economic costs of injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes are staggering. Every year motor vehicle crashes cost our country and estimated $230.6 billion. That equals more than $800 per person each year."
Law enforcement will be supporting Click It or Ticket through a variety of methods during the two-week period. Officers will have zero tolerance for traffic law violators in an effort to get every driver and passenger to buckle up, day and night.
In Virginia, law enforcement can cite drivers of vehicles where occupants under age 16 are not wearing seat belts or are not properly restrained in a child safety seat. Drivers stopped for other violations can be cited if they are not buckled up.