As motorists took to the roads this past holiday weekend, the official start to summer has initiated Highway Patrol officers’ annual campaign to remind travelers of safety when on the highways.
North Carolina officially kicked off the 23rd year of the Click It or Ticket program, which reminds motorists that wearing a seat belt is not only the law, but the best way to prevent injuries when involved in an accident. This year’s campaign will run through June 5.
According to Sgt. David Kinlaw with the N.C. Highway Patrol, the national Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign has created an increase in the presence of law enforcement officers on the state’s roadways to help keep those who drive the highways safe.
“During this time, we have increased the patrol and we are more vigilant on the roads,” Kinlaw stated. “In addition to looking for those seat belt violations, we set up stations across the county to check for proper safety restraints.”
In Sampson County, since May 23, Kinlaw said there have been 31 seat belt violation charges, as well as four child restraint violations. During this time each year, Kinlaw said the officers are always working to improve the safety of motorists and passengers by utilizing extra patrols to detect those seat belt violations.
North Carolina law, Kinlaw added, requires all passengers in a vehicle to be properly restrained. While many backseat passengers believe they do not have to use a seat belt, the sergeant said wearing a seat belt is a requirement for any age. Proper child restraints are also required by the patrol officers.
“Everyone must have a seat belt on,” Kinlaw stated. “While the back seat violation ticket isn’t as costly, it’s just as important to wear the seat belt in the back.”
According to statistics provided by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, in 2015, 415 people were killed and an additional 436 others were seriously injured who were not wearing a seat belt when involved in a motor vehicle crash.
“As the summer months begin, I would encourage motorists to allow more time for traveling, because there are going to be more people on the roads and it will take more time,” Kinlaw said. “Motorists need buckle up, don’t drink and drive, increase their following distance and use the proper restraints.”
In an effort to stress the importance of back seat passengers buckling up, the DOT estimates that people not wearing a seat belt in either the front or back seat of a vehicle are 30 times more likely to be ejected during a crash. According to the DOT, another sobering statistic estimates that in fatal crashes, more than three out of four people who are ejected die from their injuries.
“We want to encourage everyone to have a safe and enjoyable summer,” Kinlaw added. “That means everyone should buckle up and be safe.”
Even North Carolina’s governor has stressed the importance of buckling up when traveling, especially in the back seat. Governor Pat McCrory cited his recent accident in California following this year’s Super Bowl game as the perfect example.
McCrory, who was a back-seat passenger, was not seriously injured when the car he was traveling in was rear-ended. The governor attributes his safety to the fact that he was wearing a seat belt.
Highway Patrol officers encourage motorists to be safe throughout the summer and recommend the following safety tips to drivers and passengers:
• Buckle up;
• Don’t drink and drive;
• Obey the posted speed limit;
• Keep a safe following distance;
• Turn on your headlights in the rain; and
• Put away all distractions including cell phones.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.