Monday, May 12, 2003
|Contact: Rae Tyson
Telephone: (202) 366-9550
U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Launches
Massive Law Enforcement Mobilization for Traffic Safety
U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta today launched a massive "Click It or Ticket Mobilization" for safety belt law enforcement, the largest-ever nationwide law enforcement program to increase safety belt use. The May enforcement effort is specifically targeting young drivers.
"Teens and young adults are killed at far higher rates in crashes because they are caught in a lethal intersection of inexperience, risk taking and low safety belt use," said Secretary Mineta. "These tragedies are predictable and therefore preventable. High visibility enforcement of safety belt laws like this mobilization will help prevent injuries and save lives."
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data show teens (16- to 19-year-olds) are at higher risk of being in a car crash and less likely to use safety belts than other age groups. Based on NHTSA preliminary statistics, America lost 4,942 teens, ages 16-19, in traffic crashes in 2002, and thousands more were injured. Fatality rates for teens are twice that of persons 35 years and older and the crash involvement rates for teen drivers are three times that of drivers in their 40s and 50s. Two out of five deaths among teens are the result of a traffic crash.
More than 12,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will conduct safety belt checkpoints and other special law enforcement activities as part of the campaign.
"Despite years of effort, safety belt use in this country stands at just 75 percent, and even lower at 69 percent among teens and young adults," said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D. "The only proven way to achieve significant increases in safety belt use is through strong laws and highly visible enforcement of those laws. So today we are putting people on notice to click it, or expect a ticket."
NHTSA said the goal is not to give out tickets but rather to influence people to buckle up to prevent injuries and fatalities. Research shows that the certainty of a ticket and costly fines convinces people to use their safety belts – 8 percent higher in states that conduct high visibility enforcement.
The national Click It or Ticket campaign is conducted in May and November by NHTSA and the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign of the National Safety Council in conjunction with nearly 12,000 law enforcement agencies and hundreds of traffic safety organizations nationwide.
The two-week enforcement blitz running from May 19 through the Memorial Day holiday will be supported by more than $20 million dollars in targeted state and national advertising. The campaign coincides with National Transportation Week.
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