Guest column: Click it or ticket – the simplest way to stay alive

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(Posted Nov. 23, 2020)

The following was submitted by Erin Fawley, MPH, director of community health and accreditation at Madison Public Health.

Every time you go somewhere in a vehicle, whether you’re the driver or a passenger, you should have your seat belt buckled. Buckling your seat belt should be a habit—something you do without exception. It should be the first thing you do when you get in the car because it could mean the difference between life and death.

Still, about 10 percent of drivers and passengers go without their seat belts in America. Why? It usually comes down to lack of knowledge. If you know better, you do better. No one sets out on a road trip and thinks, “I might be in a terrible crash today.” But we know crashes do happen. Every day. We know that seat belts save lives. If you knew you would be involved in a crash, wouldn’t you want to be buckled? It’s your best defense against injury or death. First responders have seen too many people skip this vital step—and pay for it.

Madison County Public Health is joining the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the 2020 Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilization, which runs until Nov. 29. During this time, law enforcement agencies nationwide will be out in full force, ticketing seat belt violators who are caught traveling without a buckled seat belt or transporting unrestrained children.

According to NHTSA, in 2018 there were 9,778 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States. In that same year, 56 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were killed at night (6 p.m.-5:59 a.m.) were not wearing seat belts. That’s why one focus of the Click It or Ticket campaign is nighttime enforcement. Law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night. In Ohio, a seat belt violation comes with a monetary fine.

Remember, wearing your seat belt is required by law. Day and night, front seat and back, Click It or Ticket. Don’t just buckle up to avoid a ticket—our friends’ and families’ lives in Madison County are more important than that. If you’re caught driving while unbuckled, and you get a ticket—think of it as your wakeup call. A ticket is less expensive than paying with your life.

Find out more about the Click It or Ticket mobilization at www.nhtsa.gov/ciot.

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