While summer won’t officially be here for a few more weeks, millions of Americans have already taken to the roads for vacations, picnics, baseball games and other warm-weather destinations. And at DOT, we’re working hard to make sure they arrive at their destinations safely.
From May 21 until this past weekend, approximately 10,000 police officers were out in force across America, making our roads safer as part of DOT’s annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign. I can't thank them enough for their participation in this important effort.
Click It or Ticket is the most successful seat belt enforcement campaign ever, and it has really helped increase seat belt use. In fact, 84 percent of Americans are now buckling up when they get in the car.
While more than three million seat belt citations have been issued during the annual crackdowns over the past five years, the campaign is not about writing tickets. It’s about saving lives.
Just last week, for example, two young children in Beeville, Texas, were killed in a car accident while riding unbuckled. So this past Saturday, the local seat belt enforcement team searched for unbuckled drivers and passengers, keeping an especially close eye out for improperly restrained kids. In just four hours, they handed out 68 citations for people not wearing seat belts, about 25 of whom were children.
“It takes less than a minute to strap on your seat belt and make sure that everyone else in your vehicle is properly restrained,” said Carol Rawson of the Texas DOT. “That one minute can save a life.”
State DOT and law enforcement agencies are using a variety of methods to encourage drivers to “Click It or Ticket.” Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama teamed up once again for their Hands Across the Border safety effort. In addition to issuing citations, teams from these three states also work to educate residents.
“You have your naysayers, but we have the facts," said Columbus, Georgia Police Sgt. Tim Wynn. "The numbers don't lie; a seat belt will raise your chance of surviving an accident. And we want people to know how important this is.”
In Wisconsin, Donald Driver, the Green Bay Packers’ all-time leading receiver and most recent “Dancing With the Stars” champion, starred in “Click It or Ticket” PSAs for the Wisconsin DOT.
The Illinois DOT even used a bit of humor to convey a serious message by encouraging drivers to buckle up...if they want to survive a zombie attack.
I am very grateful to law enforcement officers throughout the country for their hard work in reminding those traveling on our roads that safety is no accident. Their hard work is truly making a difference.
Remember – this summer and every time you get in the car, please put safety first and buckle up.