The Idaho Click It, Dont Risk It! Seat
Belt Summit brought together more than 220 safety professionals
from around the state this week (Wednesday, March 17). The
summit, sponsored by ITDs Office of Highway Safety (OHS),
focused on preventing fatalities in traffic crashes through
the proper use of seat belts and booster seats.
Speakers identified strategies for saving lives, including
seatbelt laws, visible enforcement campaigns, vehicle technology,
roadway designs/maintenance and infrastructure.
The challenge before us: moving toward zero deaths,
ITD Director David Ekern told the group assembled at Boises
DoubleTree Riverside Hotel.
Getting to that goal will require successful partnerships,
like those already formed between attendees, Ekern told the
crowd. The role of partnerships between government entities,
law enforcement and private industry also played a prominent
part of the days presentations.
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is a major player in
those partnerships. Idahos FHWA Division Administrator
Steve Moreno spoke of his agencys outreach efforts at
businesses and in the lobbies of discount stores, where seat
belt messages are driven home through demonstrations that
use toys and eggs. One demonstration uses a Barbie car with
eggs in the seats, some secured, some not. The car is propelled
into an object to simulate a crash; the condition of the unrestrained
eggs dramatically illustrates how a person might fare in a
The focus of the message has got to be personal, because
everyone in this room knows it will never happen to them.
Moreno said. Its a concept of personal choice.
If people know the facts about highway safety, if I give you
the right information, you are smart enough to make the right
Also featured at the summit was a case study of Vermonts
successful seat belt campaign. Ted Minall of the Vermont Governors
Safety Program described how the Click It or Ticket! campaign
has helped seat belt use in that state go from 67 percent
to 85 percent.
The (Click It) message is to convince people to save
their lives, Minall said. Its not (an advertising)
blitz, not a crackdown. What it is: high visibility enforcement
without tolerance for occupant protection violations.
The message is to save lives, he repeated. Heres
what its all about: for two years in a row, because
of Click It, because of highway enforcement, there were no
fatalities over Memorial Day weekend.
Vermonts seat belt campaign is often considered a model
for other states. Previously ranked 40th in the nation in
terms of seat belt use, Vermont now ranks third. In Idaho,
seat belt usage reached 72 percent in September 2003, an increase
of nine percent from the previous year. The national average
is 79 percent.
Automobile collisions are the states leading cause
of accidental death.
Nationally recognized crash investigator Rob Kaufman of Harborview
Injury Prevention and Research Center in Seattle spoke at
the all-day summit about restraint technologies.
Many people do not realize how their cars have been designed
to reduce injuries in a crash, he said. For example, built-in
technologies in seat belt mechanisms hold a person in place
during a crash; this can reduce the severity of chest injuries
by preventing a driver being thrown into the steering wheel.
If force (from a crash) was a disease, then a seatbelt
is like an immunization against it, Kaufman said. A
seatbelt helps manage the force (from a crash). This is going
to save lives.
This summit was all about saving lives, said
Mary Hunter, OHS Adult Occupant Protection Specialist. Buckling
up remains the single-best defense against serious injury
or death for you and your passengers, if youre involved
in a crash.
The OHS received a federal grant of $480,000 from the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to support a
May Click It, Dont Risk It! campaign. The
May campaign will include paid advertising and concerted efforts
by state and local law enforcement to increase safety restraint
On average, five Idahoans are either killed or seriously
injured every day in traffic crashes. In 2002, 62 percent
of the 216 people who died in motor vehicle crashes in Idaho
were not wearing seat belts, according to OHS officials.
NHTSA estimates that half of those killed would have lived
had they been wearing safety restraints.