“Take that extra second or two, and put that seat belt on,” Trooper C. Casey said.
He and other local officers with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol are focusing this Memorial Day season on increasing seatbelt use as part of the agency’s annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign.
This year is of particular importance since it’s the campaign’s 20th anniversary.
While troopers work to daily enforce the safety measure while patrolling state roadways, they take two weeks each spring to buckle down on the issue.
The campaign commenced on Monday and will end June 2, according to a press release from the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Governor’s Highway Safety Program.
Unique to the effort this year, troopers have encouraged drivers to use a cell phone or other photo-savvy device to take pictures of themselves wearing their seat belts and post it to any social media site with the hashtag #SafetySelfie,” the release said.
Troopers hope the photos will encourage non-seatbelt users to buckle up and follow their peers’ law-abiding example. Of course, troopers suggest taking a “selfie” only when a vehicle is parked.
Of the more than 105, 000 seatbelt violations troopers issued across the state last year, more than 2,500 occurred in Lincoln County, according to statistics compiled by Sgt. K. B. Joines with the N.C. Department of Public Safety’s Troop F, District 5 in Lincolnton.
The number of unrestrained Lincoln County drivers and passengers cited in 2012 even registered as one of the highest figures in the state, Joines said.
In addition, of the 16 victims killed in Lincoln County wrecks between 2011 and 2012, four were not wearing a seat belt, troopers said.
When compared to wreck fatalities in other N.C. counties, in which lack of seat belts contributed to victims’ deaths, Lincoln County’s statistics has been relatively low over the last two years, Joines said.
He credited the area’s curtailed numbers to officers’ “aggressive” enforcement of the law.
North Carolina was the first state in the country to design the seatbelt-centered campaign, the release said.
Over the years, additional states have adopted similar efforts.
Troopers have seen a significant decrease in unbelted crashes across the last two decades, dropping from nearly 40,000 the year before the 1993 “Click It or Ticket” campaign started, to less than 8,200 last year, the release said.
While not wearing a seat belt may only result in a $161 fine, the behavior could potentially lead to life-threatening consequences for any driver or passenger involved in a crash. According to the N.C. Department of Transportation, seatbelt use cuts the odds of sustaining critical injuries or death in half.
To view NCDOT’s public service announcement on the issue, visit youtube.com/watch?v=WshDdbZvAz0.
“All we ask for is voluntary compliance to a law that could possibly save your life,” Casey said.