As the Memorial Day holiday approaches, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s (KYTC) Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) is joining law enforcement around the commonwealth for the annual Click It or Ticket campaign, encouraging motorists to buckle up and stay safe.
The federally funded campaign is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) high-visibility seat belt enforcement effort running May 23 – June 5.
“Taking just a few seconds to buckle up can make all the difference between recovering from injuries versus losing your life in the unfortunate event you’re involved in a crash,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “I urge drivers to make the safe choice to wear a seatbelt and ensure child passengers are securely restrained every time they travel.”
According to the KOHS, of the 806 roadway deaths last year in Kentucky, 609 were occupants of motor vehicles. Of those killed in motor vehicle crashes, 333 were either not wearing a seat belt or were not properly restrained in a car seat or booster seat. Twelve of the 609 were children age 9 and under. Four of those twelve were improperly restrained.
“These are not just numbers. These are people – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters – that never made it home,” said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray. “Taking two seconds to put on a seat belt is a simple act, yet could be the difference between life and death.”
According to NHTSA, despite the low traffic volume, fatal crashes are three times higher nationwide at nighttime versus daytime. In Kentucky last year, of the 609 occupants killed in motor vehicle crashes, 302 occurred at night. Of those, 111 were unrestrained.
“Sometimes even the most attentive drivers are involved in a crash caused by other drivers,” said Secretary Gray. “Wearing a seat belt gives you the best chance of surviving a crash.”
To reinforce this message, more than 90 law enforcement agencies throughout Kentucky have participated in the KOHS Click It or Ticket “Local Heroes” initiative. Localized public service announcements (PSAs) feature actual officers, deputies and Troopers in counties with low seat belt usage rates and/or a high number of unrestrained motorist-involved crashes. The PSAs will air during the Click It or Ticket campaign beginning Memorial Day weekend. In areas without a county-specific PSA, statewide versions will air featuring various law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
“We encourage motorists to make safe choices on the road because it’s the right thing to do, not just because it is the law,” said Secretary Gray. “However, if a life may potentially be saved by writing a ticket, they will do it.”
According to NHTSA, when worn correctly, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45 percent for front-seat vehicle occupants and by 60 percent for pickup truck, SUV and minivan occupants. Properly fastened seat belts contact the strongest parts of the body, such as the chest, hips and shoulders. A seat belt spreads the force of a crash over a wide area of the body, putting less stress on any one part, and allows the body to slow down with the crash, extending the time when the crash forces are felt by the occupant.