CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – The West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) is reminding drivers about the lifesaving benefits of correctly wearing a seat belt ahead of a summer travel season that is expected to be busier than usual this year. The GHSP is working in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) national Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement effort. The statewide seat belt campaign runs from May 13 to 30, 2022, coinciding with the Memorial Day holiday.
As part this year’s Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement mobilization, the GHSP is participating in Border to Border (B2B) on May 23 in cooperation with NHTSA’s nationwide effort and in partnership with state highway safety offices across the country. B2B is a one-day, 4-hour national seat belt awareness event (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.). The focus of B2B is on nighttime hours, when seat belt use is at its lowest. The B2B program aims to increase law enforcement participation by coordinating highly visible seat belt enforcement for drivers at heavily traveled, highly visible state border checkpoints, as well as across county and municipal jurisdictions.
“We want the act of correctly using their seat belts to become automatic for all drivers and passengers,” said Governor Jim Justice. “It’s not just a safe thing to do—it’s the law in West Virginia.”
“A lot of people have the misconception that they are safe in a certain vehicle like a pickup truck, or on a certain road, like many of our country back roads in West Virginia. But the data proves you are safest when you are buckled up,” said Bob Tipton, GHSP Director.
People who live in rural areas might believe their crash exposure is lower, but in 2020, there were 11,922 passenger vehicle fatalities in rural locations, compared to 11,683 fatalities in urban locations. Out of those fatalities, 52% of those killed in the rural locations were not wearing their seat belts, compared to 49% in urban locations.
The Click It or Ticket mobilization was created to crackdown on violators 24-7, but a strong enforcement effort is urged between the nighttime hours of 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. due to the significant number of violators and fatal crashes during this time. Nationally in 2020, 58% of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night were not wearing their seat belts.
“A lot of people think that that Click It or Ticket is about writing citations or making money. It is not. Law enforcement officers would rather write a seat belt citation—which is $25 with no added court fees—than notify your family that you have died in a motor vehicle crash,” Tipton said.
“Enforcing the law saves lives. Before the primary seat belt law was passed in West Virginia, roadway fatalities numbered around 400 people nearly every year,” continued Tipton.
2020 National Statistics
- 10,893 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants were killed in crashes in the United States
- There was 1 traffic fatality every 14 minutes and 1 traffic injury every 14 seconds
- Among young adults 18 to 34 killed in passenger vehicle crashes, more than half (60%) were completely unrestrained
- 67% of the 23,824 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed were men
- There were 11,922 passenger vehicle fatalities in rural locations, compared to 11,683 in urban locations
- Out of those fatalities, 52% of those killed in the rural locations were not wearing their seat belts, compared to 49% in urban locations
2020 West Virginia Statistics
- 267 total traffic fatalities
- Rural: 171, Urban: 89, Unknown: 7
- There were 177 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities
- Out of these fatalities, 84 were unrestrained
- There were 55 fatal ejections
- 69 occupant fatalities involved a rollover
May is a critical period for law enforcement agencies to target unbuckled drivers due to the Memorial Day holiday being the unofficial start of summer. Law enforcement officers and state highway safety officials see the consequences of not wearing a seat belt in the number of roadway casualties and are working to put an end to devasting preventable deaths in West Virginia.
“Since the passage of the primary seat belt law, our fatality numbers have decreased significantly. Seat belts save lives,” concluded Tipton.