NHTSA 08-11
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Contact: Karen Aldana
Tel: 202-366-9550


Cautions Motorists on the Risks of Driving Unbelted at Night



WASHINGTON -- As Americans prepare for the long Memorial Day travel weekend, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the 2011 Click It or Ticket mobilization with a reminder to motorists about the severe risks of driving unbelted, day or night.

"We are reminding Americans to buckle up before they hit the road for the long Memorial Day weekend," said Secretary LaHood. "Seat belts are a lifesaver, but too many people are failing to buckle their seat belts at night, and it’s costing lives."

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research shows that fewer people buckle their seat belts at night, making evening hours especially dangerous. In 2009, 62 percent of nighttime vehicle occupants who were killed in crashes were unbelted. In contrast, 44 percent of daytime occupants who were killed were unrestrained.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland cautioned that holiday periods, like the Memorial Day weekend, are unusually dangerous for unbelted motorists. Of the 306 people who died on U.S. roads during the 2009 Memorial Day period, 55 percent were unbelted.

"Statistics tell a powerful story about the fate of unbelted motorists in crashes. That’s why law enforcement is exceptionally vigilant at this time of year," said Administrator Strickland.

Young people and males are especially at risk of dying in a traffic crash in which they’re unbelted. In 2009, the age groups 21 to 24 and 25 to 34 each had 64 percent passenger vehicle occupant fatality rates, among the highest percentages of unrestrained fatalities. Fifty-eight percent of males who died in a crash were unrestrained versus 44 percent for females.

NHTSA researchers estimate that in 2009 seat belts saved 12,713 lives. But if all passenger vehicle occupants involved in crashes had worn seat belts, an additional 3,688 lives could have been spared.

This year's Click It or Ticket campaign runs through June 5. The mobilization, expected to involve more than 10,000 police agencies, is supported by $8 million in national advertising funded through Congress and supported by NHTSA. The ads, which will air in English and Spanish, generate awareness of the stepped up enforcement efforts and the increased chance of getting a ticket if you’re not buckled up. Ads will be aired on television, radio and online. View them here.