Reducing unnecessary deaths and serious injuries on Idaho highways during the Thanksgiving holiday is the goal of an enhanced seat belt education and enforcement campaign that began Nov. 13 and continues through the end of the month.
Law enforcement agencies statewide and ITD are participating in the campaign to keep more families safe while traveling the state’s highways this holiday season. Violators will be ticketed.
Idaho’s seat belt law has been in effect for 20 years. Still, the 20 percent who don’t buckle up constitute 60 percent of those killed in traffic crashes. According to a recent Idaho observation survey, 84 percent of Idaho occupants buckle up in cars, vans and sport utility vehicles, while just 69 percent of pickup occupants buckle up.
“Buckling up remains the single-best defense against serious injury or death for you and your passengers if you’re involved in a crash,” said Mary Hunter of the Office of Highway Operations and Safety.
“There were 578 unbelted vehicle occupants killed or seriously injured in Idaho traffic crashes last year,” Hunter said.
“Even those that survive crashes can suffer the consequences of their injuries for the rest of their lives,” she said. “And, it is especially important to set a good example for other family members. ”
Campaign radio and television advertising will emphasize the importance of making the right choice, to buckle up every time for every trip, or get ticketed.
"With the expected 6,000 traffic crashes during November and December (5,846 occurred last year during these months), buckling up will greatly increase your likelihood of arriving home at the end of the day," Hunter said.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 85 percent of all crash victims’ medical costs fall on society, not the individuals involved. These costs are paid through increased insurance premiums, taxes and increased charges for medical care. Crash victims who are buckled up average 60-80 percent lower hospital costs than those who are not wearing seat belts.
“The seat belt is a free piece of safety equipment. Of all the safety features added to vehicles since 1960, one – the safety belt – accounts for more than half of all lives saved according to NHTSA,” Hunter adds. “Click it, don’t risk it – don’t spend your time on the side of the road getting ticketed.”