ORONO, Maine — State troopers throughout Maine are out in force this month as part of the national Click It or Ticket campaign.
Special seat belt enforcement details in some of Maine’s high-crash locations began this week and will continue though Nov. 28 in conjunction with the national campaign.
“No one wants to start the holidays off wrong with a ticket,” Lt. Wesley Hussey, troop commander for Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, said in a news release.
“Wearing a seat belt costs you nothing, but not wearing it could you cost you a ticket or worse — your life,” he said. “We want all drivers and passengers to Click It or Ticket, day and night.”
While seat belt use is at a record high of 85 percent nationwide, 45 million Americans still fail to buckle up when they get in a motor vehicle.
According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 38 passenger vehicle occupants who are not buckled up are killed in motor vehicle crashes on any given day.
In 2008 alone, seat belts saved more than 13,000 lives. However, more than 4,150 unbuckled vehicle occupants died on U.S. roadways that year. It is estimated that nearly one-third of those who weren’t buckled up could have lived had they had been properly belted.
The 2008 Thanksgiving holiday week was no different, with 1,120 people killed in vehicle crashes. More than half of those who died were not wearing their seat belts in cases where safety belt use was discernable. National statistics also show that those least likely to buckle up are teens, young adults, males, nighttime riders, people traveling on rural roads and those traveling in pickup trucks.
“Sadly, the holidays, which for many are the happiest time of the year, [are] also one of the deadliest and most tragic,” Hussey said.
Regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Research shows that when lap and shoulder belts are used properly, the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent.
For more information about the Thanksgiving Click It or Ticket campaign, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.