The West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) reminds drivers and passengers to buckle their seat belt during the Click It or Ticket high visibility enforcement campaign and every day of the year. The statewide heightened enforcement is ongoing and runs through Memorial Day weekend. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) national seat belt enforcement mobilization runs May 22-June 4, 2023.
“We want West Virginians to make the smart choice to buckle up every time they travel in a vehicle,” said Gov. Jim Justice. “Seat belts save lives, and it’s worth the two seconds it takes to buckle up.”
As reported by NHTSA, in 2021, 11,813 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants were killed in crashes in the United States. In that same year, 57% of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m.–5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts. That’s why one focus of the Click It or Ticket campaign is nighttime enforcement. Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night. In West Virginia, the penalty for a seat belt violation is $25 with no added court costs or fees.
In 2021, 280 people lost their lives on West Virginia roads. Passenger vehicle fatalities totaled 184 people, with 74 of them confirmed as being unbuckled/unrestrained.
“A lot of people think that driving a pickup truck or sitting in the back seat is enough protection should they be involved in a crash. This is not true,” said GHSP Occupant Protection Program Coordinator Amy Boggs.
“Sixty-one percent of pickup truck occupants who were killed in 2021 were not buckled up. Compare that data to passenger car occupants: forty-seven percent of the people killed in passenger cars were unbuckled,” Boggs continued. “Forty-nine percent of all front-seat passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2021 were unrestrained, but 57% of those killed in back seats were unrestrained.”
“Regardless of the vehicle type or seating position, buckling up is the single most effective way to stay alive in a crash,” Boggs said.
West Virginia’s seat belt use rate climbed to 92.5% in 2022, the highest use rate recorded in West Virginia. At the current seat belt use rate, preliminary data shows unbuckled West Virginians are 18.21 times more likely to die in a crash than those who are properly restrained.
“Our ultimate goals are 100% seat belt use and zero roadway fatalities,” said Bob Tipton, GHSP Director. “Just one fatality is too many, especially in the framework of your own family and friends. Speak up and ensure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained. Make sure your children are in the right car seat for their height and weight. Give your family and friends the best chance at surviving a crash. Buckling up will save your life.
For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit highwaysafety.wv.gov.