PARKERSBURG - The 2013 Click It Or Ticket campaign has begun in West Virginia, and law enforcement agencies within the Mid-Ohio Valley will be participating in the program by conducting overtime enforcement activities.
According to local highway safety officials, in 2011, seat belts saved an estimated 11,949 lives nationwide. In fatal crashes during 2011, 77 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were thrown from their vehicles were killed. One percent of crash victims who were buckled up were totally ejected from their vehicles, compared to 31 percent of those who were unbelted. Motorists are 75 percent less likely to be killed in a rollover crash if they are buckled up, said Toni Tiano with the Mid-Ohio Valley Highway Safety Program.
"High-visibility enforcement is credited with increasing the national seat belt usage rate from 58 percent in 1994 to an estimated observed usage rate of 86 percent in 2012-an all-time high rate," Tiano said.
In 2011, of the 21,253 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide, 52 percent were not wearing seat belts at the time of their fatal crashes. From 2007-2011, 53 percent of the 121,507 passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes were unrestrained.
Tiano noted younger men in particular are most at risk. Among teens and young adults, ages 18-34 who were killed in fatal crashes in 2011, 64 percent were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. That is the highest percentage of any age group.
Pickup truck drivers and passengers are also at risk, Tiano said. In 2011, 65 percent of pickup truck occupants who were killed in traffic crashes were not buckled up at the time of the crashes, compared to 46 percent of passenger car occupants who were killed from not buckling up.
Nationally, 62 percent of the 10,135 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes overnight (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) in 2011 were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash, compared to 43 percent during the daytime hours.
West Virginia has a secondary seat belt usage law and a primary child safety seat law. Effective Sept. 1, 2013, West Virginia's seat belt law will change to become a primary law.