As summer begins to wind down, more people may be traveling for vacation, to visit family, or to get one more long weekend away in before school starts and busy fall schedules begin. The West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (WV GHSP) is reminding all drivers of the importance of seat belt use. The WV GHSP is coordinating a statewide Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement mobilization that runs from Aug. 6-22.
Law enforcement officers across West Virginia will have zero tolerance for seat belt violators who are caught traveling without a correctly buckled seat belt or transporting unrestrained or improperly restrained children. Intended to help keep all vehicle occupants safe, the statewide seat belt enforcement campaign is successively continuing the momentum from the national Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement mobilization in May.
“We want everyone who is traveling in our beautiful state to buckle up. Whether you’re visiting one of our beautiful state parks or just running an errand, buckle your seat belt, every trip, every time,” said Gov. Jim Justice.
In 2019, there were 9,466 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States. In West Virginia, 78 unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants died. To help prevent crash fatalities, we need to step up seat belt enforcement, day and night.
“West Virginia’s seat belt usage rate is just over 90 percent. We are working to close the gap. In a perfect world, 100 percent of drivers and passengers would buckle their seat belts every time they travel in a vehicle,” said Bob Tipton, WV GHSP Director.
People who live in rural West Virginia might think that their crash risk is lower, but in 2019, there were 11,971 passenger vehicle fatalities in rural locations, compared to 10,187 fatalities in urban locations. Out of those fatalities, 48% of those killed in the rural locations were not wearing their seat belts, compared to 45% in urban locations.
“Approximately 10 percent of West Virginians still don’t buckle their seat belts. That makes unbuckled drivers and passengers 8.42 times more likely to be killed in a crash,” Tipton continued, “If you’re going to gamble with your life, do you like those odds?”
Wearing your seat belt is not just a safe practice; it is required by law. Day and night, front seat and back, every trip, every time: Click It or Ticket. Don’t just buckle up to avoid a ticket. The values of our families’ and friends’ lives in West Virginia are priceless – and much higher in value than the money violators pay if ticketed. If you are caught driving while unbuckled and you get a ticket, look at it as your wake-up call. A ticket is less expensive than paying with your life or the lives of your family and friends.
“Again, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to enforce seat belt laws; people would buckle up because it’s one of the safest precautions you can take as a driver or passenger. It takes enforcing the law to get everyone to buckle up. Despite what people might think, Click It or Ticket isn’t about citations; it’s about saving lives,” concluded Tipton.
For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit www.dmv.gov/ghsp or call 304-926-2509.