For the next few weeks, law enforcement officials throughout the commonwealth will be stepping up enforcement of the state’s seat belt law. It’s an effort to get more people to buckle up.
“Even if you’re a safe driver, you don’t drive over the speed limit, you’re really conscientious about your driving, you don’t know about that other man or that other motorist,” said Jay Ofsanik, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. “If they come through the intersection, or they go through that red light, you’re not going to see that coming. Having your seatbelt on is your first line of defense to keep you in place so the air bags and all the other safety components of the vehicle can keep you safe and maybe limit your injuries and save your life.”
About 83 percent of Pennsylvanians do wear their seat belts, but there’s that small percentage of people who don’t. Those are the people being targeted by Click It or Ticket.
“I think you have a combination — people just aren’t aware, they don’t think it’s important, they’ve been driving for 30 years and never had a need, but you know, you don’t know when that one crash is going to happen," Ofsanik said. "And some people are just stubborn, but we need to educate them and get them to be aware of the fact that they need to wear their seat belt. It’s a life saver.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing a seatbelt can reduce the risk of crash-related injuries and death by 50 percent. Other statistics from the CDC include:
- Adults age 18-34 are less likely to wear seat belts than adults 35 or older.
- Men are 10 percent less likely to wear seat belts than women.
- Adults who live in rural areas are 10 percent less likely to wear seat belts (78 percent use) than adults who live in urban and suburban areas (87 percent use).
Pennsylvania is a secondary enforcement state for those over the age of 18. That means a motorist can’t be pulled over just for not wearing a seatbelt, but they can be ticketed if pulled over for another offense and found not to be wearing one. For any driver under 18, not wearing a seat belt is a primary offense.
Seat belt use is lower in states with secondary enforcement seat belt laws or no seat belt laws (79 percent) compared to states with primary enforcement laws (88 percent).
The stepped-up seatbelt enforcement effort got underway in Pittsburgh Monday with a morning check point on West Carson Street.
“PennDOT is investing $700,000 in the Click It or Ticket campaign to put over 600 different police departments along with Pennsylvania State Police on the roadways during this time to do extra enforcement, to educate people and to get them to wear their seatbelts,” Ofsanik said.
Click It or Ticket runs now through June 9 and will be in effect over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.