‘Click It or Ticket’ saves lives

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 25, 2007

AHOSKIE – &uot;Click it or Ticket&uot; is an intensive and short duration traffic law enforcement program that focuses on increasing seat belt and child safety restraint use.

The Ahoskie Police Department and N.C. Highway Patrol participated in the &uot;Click it or Ticket&uot; program this week.

First Sgt. Kenny Pitts of the Highway Patrol office in Ahoskie said that the program went well.

He also said that at the checkpoint most everyone was buckled up.

&uot;We want to make sure that everyone wears their seatbelts because they save lives,&uot; said Pitts.

The &uot;Click it or Ticket&uot; campaign is currently used in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

Former Gov. Jim Hunt started the program in North Carolina in October 1993.

The support of the governor was essential to the success of the program.

He sent letters to enforcement, judicial, mayoral and injury prevention officials to show his support of the program and to ask for their support.

According to Pitts, most of the law enforcement agencies in North Carolina take part in the program.

The program is part of the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Initiative, which is the model highway safety program for the United States.

Unbelted drivers and passengers who are involved in car crashes accounted for 46 percent of deaths on North Carolina roads in 2005.

Properly worn safety belts have been proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent.

Before the program was implemented, seat belt use in North Carolina was about 63 percent.

Pitts said that North Carolina’s current seatbelt usage is 88.5 percent.

The goal is for North Carolina to reach 90 percent seatbelt usage.

The fine for not wearing a seatbelt is $100.

Any child restraint violation is $135 and results in points on the driver’s license.

Although the focus of the program is mainly seat belt use, officers have discovered other crimes at these checkpoints.

Some of these crimes include stolen vehicles, drug violations and finding escaped criminals.

In addition to the &uot;Click it or Ticket&uot; program, the Highway Patrol is participating in two other campaigns.

The &uot;Buckle up America&uot; program is in effect this week.

The other campaign, &uot;Operation CARE,&uot; begins on Friday at 6 p.m. and ends midnight on Memorial Day.

CARE stands for Combined Accident Reduction Effort.

A police sergeant from Michigan and a sergeant from Indiana started the CARE campaign in 1977 to reduce collisions on U.S. highways.

In 1978, the first campaign started in North Carolina.

The objective of the campaign is to reduce the three factors that contribute the most to vehicle accidents: speed, impaired driving and failure to use passenger restraints.