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GHSA News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2009

Contact: Jonathan Adkins
(202)789-0942, ext.13
(202)669-9746, cell

Seat Belt Enforcement Blitz Set for May 18-31

Two States Pass Primary Laws to Save More Lives

Statement for Attribution to Vernon F. Betkey, Jr., Chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—State highway safety agencies across the nation will conduct a massive seat belt enforcement campaign May 18-31. The effort is part of the national Click It or Ticket campaign that is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Thousands of state and local law enforcement agencies will mobilize with highly publicized seat belt enforcement checkpoints and saturation patrols to ensure that the public is buckled up. A focal point this year is making sure people are wearing their seat belts both day and night. According to NHTSA, in 2007, 14,646 passenger vehicle occupants died in crashes between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 5:50 a.m. Sixty-three percent of them were not wearing their seat belts.

While overall seat belt use is at a record level of 83 percent, too many people are still not buckling up. NHTSA estimates that in 2007 more than 5,000 traffic deaths would have been prevented if seat belts were worn at the time of the crashes. To increase usage, GHSA strongly urges every state to enact and enforce a primary seat belt law—a provision that allows law enforcement to stop a driver for being unbuckled.

GHSA is thrilled that two more states—Florida and Arkansas—joined the slowly increasing number of states that have enacted primary seat belt laws. However, it is disappointing that 22 states still lack this common-sense, lifesaving law. As a former police officer, I know all too well of the tragedies associated with not buckling up. I have investigated far too many fatal crashes in which the driver was not belted. When these 22 states enact these laws, they will quickly see their belt use increase and their fatalities decrease. For example, since Tennessee’s primary law took effect in 2004, the state has experienced a nearly ten percentage point gain in seat belt use and approximately 300 fewer fatalities.

GHSA is committed to continuing the excellent federal-state-local partnership that has made Click it or Ticket the most successful seat belt use campaign ever. We remind our friends and neighbors to buckle up or run the risk of a ticket or a serious injury.

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Current seat belt laws are available at www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/seatbelt_laws.html.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)® is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy and enhance program management. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit www.ghsa.org.