This year’s “Click It or Ticket” seat belt campaign kicks off this month across the state.  The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office is partnering with St. John Health System, law enforcement partners, AAA Oklahoma, and other groups statewide to highlight the dangers of not wearing a seat belt.
This highly visible seat belt enforcement period begins on May 21 and runs through June 3, encompassing the busy Memorial Day holiday weekend. In 2016, 47.5 percent of all vehicle fatality victims in Oklahoma were not using safety belts or child restraint devices. Among the almost 34,000 people injured in crashes in Oklahoma during 2016, 2,500 were not restrained.
“In 2016, we lost 224 Oklahomans because they weren’t buckled up,” said Cody McDonell, communications
manager for the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. “To us, that’s 224 too many. Something as simple as clicking your seat belt can save your life.”
During the 2017 “Click It or Ticket” campaign in Oklahoma, nearly 300 agencies participated, resulting in 8,057 seat belt violations and 244 child passenger restraint violations.
Capt. Keith Ingle, Ardmore Police Department, said the department will be out in force to catch violators in the area. Davis Police Department has also signed on as a participant in the statewide effort.
“Past ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaigns have shown how helpful it can be to our overall goal of spreading the message about the importance of buckling up,” said Paul Harris, director of the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.
“Wearing a seat belt is the number one thing anyone can do to help prevent death or injury during a vehicle crash,” said Harris.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 56 percent of vehicle occupants nationwide who were killed between 6 pm and 6 am were not wearing their seat belts, which is why one focus of this year’s “Click It or Ticket” campaign is nighttime enforcement. During the week of “Click It or Ticket,” participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt enforcement, writing citations day and night.
“We have asked our officers to pay close attention to vehicles being driven on the roadways and to enforce the seatbelt laws,” said Ardmore Police Deputy Chief Kevin Norris. “I have also spoken with Sgt. Gee, who is the Motorcycle Unit Supervisor, and asked them to be extremely diligent in their enforcement of the seatbelt laws.”
There seems to be a misconception among those who drive and ride in pickup trucks that their large vehicles will protect them better than other vehicles would in a crash. The numbers say otherwise: 61 percent of pickup truck occupants who were killed in 2016 nationwide were not buckled up. That’s compared to 42 percent of passenger car occupants who were not wearing seat belts when they were killed. Regardless of vehicle type, seat belt use is the single most effective way to stay alive in a crash.
“Our goal isn’t to write citations, but we do know tickets talk,” said Lt. Joe Williams with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. The program offers law enforcement an opportunity to focus on those who aren’t using safety belts. “If you know a friend or a family member who does not buckle up when they drive, please ask them to consider changing their habits,” said Lt. Williams.
“We want everyone to have a joyous and safe holiday,” said Norris.
For more information on the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, please visit www.ohso.ok.gov/clickit.