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DC Officials Remind Motorists To Click It or Ticket

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

DC Officials Remind Motorists To Click It or Ticket

Special focus on nighttime seat belt usage seeks to prevent injuries and save lives

Beginning this week, the Metropolitan Police Department is joining law enforcement agencies from around the region and across the country in a concerted effort to prevent injuries and save lives by getting more motorists to buckle up. Called "Click It or Ticket," the initiative includes both public education about seat belt usage and stepped-up enforcement of the District's strict safety belt laws.

This year's "Click It or Ticket" mobilization, which runs from May 22 to June 4, 2006, places a special emphasis on increasing seat belt usage -- and, thereby, decreasing deaths and injuries -- during the evening and nighttime hours. Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that 71 percent of nighttime highway fatalities involve unbelted drivers and passengers.

In keeping with this year's focus, the MPDC will be conducting an evening seat belt safety checkpoint in Northwest DC; members of the news media are invited to attend.

What:

"Click It or Ticket" Seat Belt Safety Checkpoint

When:

Wednesday, May 24, 2006, 4-8 pm

Where:

3000 block of Massachusetts Avenue, NW

Who:

  • Metropolitan Police Department Traffic Safety and Special Enforcement Branch
  • District Department of Transportation officials
  • Other traffic safety advocate

Contact:

Lt. Byron Hope, MPDC
(202) 727-4315

"Click It or Ticket" is coordinated regionally by NHTSA's Mid-Atlantic Region, and is supported locally by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). The educational component of the campaign includes radio and television advertising, street signs and message boards, and community outreach. The enforcement component includes safety checkpoints, as well as enhanced patrols in all seven police districts.

Under DC law, the driver and all passengers -- both front and rear seat -- must be buckled up. In addition, all children under the age of 8 must be secured in an appropriate infant, toddler or booster seat. Violations carry a $50 fine ($75 for drivers with child safety seat violations), plus two points on the driver's license. DC has a "primary" seat belt law, meaning that officers can stop motorists solely for safety belt infractions.

According to DDOT, the seat belt usage rate in DC has risen to nearly 89 percent, from less than 80 percent in 1998.  Research shows that safety belt use saves lives and prevents injuries. Between 1975 and 2000, safety belts prevented 135,000 fatalities and 3.8 million injuries nationwide, saving $585 billion in medical and other costs, according to NHTSA. If all vehicle occupants had used safety belts during that period, nearly 315,000 deaths and 5.2 million injuries could have been prevented -- and $913 billion in costs saved. NHTSA estimates that the general public pays nearly 75 percent of all crash costs, including medical costs, higher insurance premiums, taxes, delays and lost productivity.

For more information about seat belt safety and "Click It or Ticket" in DC, visit the MPDC website.