Seat-belt campaign to run statewide Friday to June 1

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By The Staff

PERRY COUNTY - In an effort to save lives while increasing seatbelt use across the state, officers from Cannelton and Tell City police departments, and Perry County Sheriff's Department will join with more than 250 state and local law-enforcement agencies this spring to launch Indiana's Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign.

The statewide seatbelt mobilization will take place from May 16 to June 1, covering the busy Memorial Day holiday.

With an emphasis this year on convincing more motorists to buckle up day and night, law-enforcement officers will be on the lookout for unrestrained motorists around the clock. Through high-visibility enforcement efforts, officers will work overtime hours to ensure all drivers and passengers in the Hoosier state buckle up every trip, every time or they will face a fine.

According to a 2007 survey, Indiana's overall observed seat-belt usage rate increased from 62.1 percent in 2000 to a record high of 88.4 percent in 2007. The survey also reported a 22-point increase of seatbelt usage among pickup-truck drivers, jumping from 49.5 percent in 2005 to 71.5 percent in 2007.

"Although Indiana's numbers are encouraging, these high-visibility enforcement efforts are still essential to increasing seat-belt usage among those who are notorious for not buckling up. That is, male pickup-truck drivers between the ages 18 to 34 who tend to live in rural areas of the state," said Cannelton Sgt. Eric Dickenson, Click it or Ticket coordinator for Perry County. "We remain committed to building on the successes that we have gained and supporting enforcement efforts that work to save lives."

Further studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that in addition to nighttime motorists, men - particularly young men - and young people ages 16 to 24 are among those less likely to buckle up. In 2006, 73 percent of male passenger-vehicle occupants between the ages of 18 and 34 who were killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts. Sixty-four percent of teenage passenger-vehicle occupants killed in fatal crashes in 2006 were not buckled up at the time of the crashes.

"Research shows us that there is a problem with drivers and passengers not buckling up at night, which is when the risk of a fatal crash is greatest," Dickenson said. "Clearly much more must be done as it relates to enforcement, education and promoting overall behavioral change if we are going to continue to make progress."