MOUNT VERNON — As the unofficial start of summer, the Memorial Day holiday weekend is a busy time for Americans. Each year, the roadways fill with families in vehicles on their way to start their summer vacations. To help keep drivers and passengers safe, the Knox County Safe Communities Coalition is reminding motorists to Click It or Ticket. Aimed at enforcing seat belt use to help keep families safe, the national seat belt campaign runs through June 3, concurrent with the busy travel season.
The Safe Communities Coalition is coordinated by the Knox County Health Department under the direction of Alayna Anderson, and consists of members from many fields of traffic safety, including first responders, law enforcement, engineering and education.
For the second year in a row, the Safe Communities Coalition teamed up with the Centerburg and Mount Vernon Boy Scouts to conduct a seat belt check event and distribute free traffic safety materials. Their event took place in the Hometown Market, Centerburg, parking lot May 21.
“Buckling up is such a simple task that can keep you and your family safe in the car,” said Cpt. Jay Sheffer of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. “But it’s more than that. Buckling up is the law. Our law enforcement personnel see the consequences of not buckling up. We see the loss of life. Often, it could have been prevented with the simple click of a seat belt. This should be automatic.”
“As the Memorial Day weekend is here and the summer vacation season ramps up, we want to keep our community members safe, and make sure people are doing the one thing that can save them in a crash: buckling up,” said Mount Vernon Fire Department Chief Chad Christopher. “If the enforcement crackdown wakes people up to the dangers of unrestrained driving, we’ll consider it a success.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 48 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2016 were unrestrained. At night from 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m., that number soared to 56 percent of those killed. That’s why one focus of the Click It or Ticket campaign is nighttime enforcement.
Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night.
“In 2016 and 2017, we lost six community members because they did not buckle their seat belts,” said Lt. G. Grewal of the Mount Gilead Ohio State Highway Patrol Post.
Almost twice as many males were killed in crashes compared to females, with lower belt use rates, too. Nationally, of the males killed in crashes in 2016, more than half, 52 percent, were unrestrained. For females killed in crashes, 40 percent were not buckled up.
“If you know a friend or a family member who does not buckle up when they drive, please ask them to consider changing their habits,” said Central Ohio Joint Fire District’s Prevention Officer, Philip Lohmeyer. “Help us spread this life-saving message before one more friend or family member is killed as a result of this senseless inaction. Seat belts save lives, and everyone — front seat and back, child and adult — needs to remember to buckle up — every trip, every time.”
For more information on the Click It or Ticket mobilization or upcoming seat belt checks, contact Anderson at 740-392-2200 ext. 2232, visit www.nhtsa.gov/ciot or “Like” the Safe Communities Knox County Facebook page.