On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a national campaign to encourage all drivers to wear seat belts in an effort to stem the rising tide of unnecessary auto accident fatalities.
The 2016 Click it or Ticket campaign kicked off on May 16, and is hoped to impart what U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says is "a simple idea that every driver and passenger should keep in mind: buckle up every time." Fox goes on to say, "Putting on your seat belt is one of the easiest and safest choices you can make."
As part of this annual campaign to increase seat belt safety awareness and encourage all drivers and passengers to buckle up, the Department of Transportation will run a national ad campaign through June 5 to help educate Americans about the importance of wearing seat belts. Then, from May 23 to June 5, all local and state law enforcement agencies will be encouraged to adopt zero-tolerance policies regarding seat belt use and issue tickets accordingly.
Click it or Ticket mobilizations began on a state level, with the first taking place in North Carolina in 1993. The first national campaign took place in 2003 and has continued annually on a national level since then. Between 2003 and 2006, 43 states showed a marked increase in seat belt use as a result of these campaigns. The NHTSA reports that in the year 2014, roughly 12,802 lives were saved by seat belts. Still, nearly one-half of passenger fatalities in auto accidents that year occurred in occupants not wearing seat belts—so the NHTSA says we still have a long way to go before total seat belt adherence is a reality in this nation.
In Florida, the Orlando Sentinel reports that according to the Florida Highway Patrol roughly 48% of all victims of car accident fatalities in our state were not wearing seat belts. The Florida Department of Transportation reports that in 2013, roughly 91% of women wore seat belts while either driving or riding in a vehicle, while only 84.3% of men did. Although seat belt use in Florida is historically above the national average, this does not mean that we have earned the right to become more lax when enforcing seat belt use. As NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind says, "We have made enormous progress as a nation in increasing seat belt use, but far too many people are still dying because they are not buckled up during crashes. Before you even turn the key, make sure that everyone in your car has their seat belt on, every trip, day and night."
As experienced auto accident lawyers serving communities in Florida for many years, we have seen first-hand that the damage caused by car crashes becomes far more severe when vehicle occupants choose not to buckle up. It only takes a moment to fasten a seat belt, and this simple decision can mean the difference between life and death for thousands of people every day.
Unfortunately, even when conscientious drivers and passengers make the wise decision to fasten their seat belts, careless or negligent drivers can still endanger them. If you or your loved one was injured or killed in a car crash, we can help you hold all negligent parties accountable for your suffering and damages. Please contact us today to learn more in a free legal consultation.