US police to up seat belt citations

May 21, 2013
sign to tackle seat belt violation

View this sign here.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is all set to launch its National Seat Belt Enforcement Mobilization campaign. This “Click it or Ticket” program will run for a fortnight, from May 20 – June 2, focusing on Memorial Day weekend, which falls smack in the middle. Police across the country are planning to be especially generous with seat belt citations, and pay particular attention to child restraint laws.

The Wichita Eagle reports, “The adult compliance rate for seat belt use is 80 percent statewide.” According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, nearly half of those who die in crashes aren’t wearing a seat belt.

The main audience for NHTSA’s campaign is men aged 18 – 34. Research shows that this segment is least likely to wear seat belts. Time reports, “Nighttime in general is when more drivers and passengers tend to ‘forget’ or just not bother with the fastening of seat belts.”

Different states are using varying approaches for the NHTSA campaign. In Washington, extra patrols will be deployed for the specific purpose of dishing out seat belt citations as well as citations for using cell phones. New Jersey police even plan to make sure adults in the back seat have their belts on. Time says “Only 36% of adults do so, compared to 88% of adults in New Jersey in a car’s front row.”

seat belt User

A driver wearing a seat belt. Image by Javier Rapoport.

The annual NHTSA campaign has succeeded in improving seat belt use. According to Businessweek, the NHSA “says that 43 out of 50 states have shown ‘increased seat belt use’ since the program was started in 2003.”

Another reason NHTSA’s campaign is welcomed by lawmakers: it generates revenue for states. According to Highway Safety Administrator Fred E. Zwonechek, Nebraska “expects to double the number of total traffic citations officers typically issue during the two-week period, from 12,000 to 24,000. (That includes seat belt fines, speeding, and driving under the influence.) Zwonechek says the state will generate $750,000 from the campaign, compared to $400,000 normally.”

Irate members of the public have been known to deface police cars when more tickets than usual are handed out. Still, as more people comply with the law after such drives, these campaigns are, at the end of the day, effective. If similar initiatives could be launched against rising dangers like drivers who text, accidents could drop even further.

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Category: Enforcement, Road safety, Traffic law

About the Author ()

A graduate in English Literature from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, India, Nupur also has an MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi University. Nupur is currently trying to be as savvy a cook as she is with a book. She likes watching plays and sunsets. Nupur first lived in Kolkata and then for a decade in Delhi, still her favorite city.

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