Washington’s annual Click It or Ticket seat belt campaign began Monday, as law enforcement across the state started extra patrols searching for motorists not wearing their seat belts. More than 145 law enforcement agencies are participating statewide between May 13 and June 2.
While most Washingtonians routinely buckle up, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) is concerned that over 100 people who are unbuckled die in crashes each year. Most of these were young men between the ages of 21-25. WTSC has launched a public safety campaign aimed at these young adults.
“Buckling up every time is the right and safe thing to do,” said Scott Waller, WTSC occupant protection program manager. “In Washington, 93 percent ‘click it’ when they’re on the road, because they know that wearing a seat belt greatly reduces the chances of dying or being seriously injured in a crash. Unfortunately, some of our young adult drivers – those most likely to be in a crash – are the least likely to be wearing a seat belt. And that’s scary.”
To focus on just how scary that is, the WTSC is running a horror-movie style video ad that depicts a young man and woman being chased in the dark by a man wielding a chainsaw. They jump in a car and, as the young man desperately tries to start it, the young woman asks “where’s the seatbelt?” As the chainsaw man gets closer the young woman gets out of the car when she realizes the driver is not wearing one. “I’ll take my chances out here!” she says.
“The ad uses humor to get a very serious point across,” says Waller. “Your odds of dying in a crash are four times greater if you are not buckled up.” Nationally, among young adults 18-34 killed in crashes in 2017, more than half (57 percent) were completely unrestrained, one of the highest percentages for all age groups. The ad campaign is being run concurrent with the seat belt enforcement patrols.
An observational study conducted by the WTSC found that statewide, seat belt use was 93.2 percent among vehicle occupants in 2018, compared to a national seat belt use rate of 89.7 percent in 2017.
“Most of us buckle up,” said Waller. “Let’s all work together and get everyone to click it, no exceptions. It’s not just a matter of avoiding a ticket, it’s about keeping everyone safe on the road.”
Parents, said Waller, should make sure their teen drivers start a lifelong habit of buckling up.
- Always model safe behavior
- Persistently stress why seat belt use is important to their personal safety
- Be armed with the facts to debunk myths – riding in a big vehicle, traveling on country roads or sitting in the back seat do not make you safer or alleviate the need for a seat belt
“All of us have a role to play in traffic safety,” said Waller. “First in being safe ourselves, and then helping others.”