Saving lives by increasing seat belt use is why Idaho is joining with states across the nation for the Click it or Ticket mobilization that begins Monday (May 21) and continues through June 3.
The Idaho State Police and about 45 other Idaho law enforcement agencies, along with agencies throughout the country, will be out in full force enforcing seat belt laws in an effort to save more lives, according to Mary Hunter, Adult Occupant Specialist for ITD.
“Officers are trying to keep families whole,” Hunter said. “Seventy percent of the unbelted traffic crash victims killed in Idaho during 2006 were males 20 years of age and older. Many of them were husbands and fathers.”
Idaho, Kansas, Wisconsin and Missouri share the distinction of having the lowest seat belt fine in the country at just $10 for not buckling up.
While motorists cannot be stopped for a seat belt violation alone in Idaho, that won’t stop law enforcement officers from trying to save more lives by enforcing the state’s seat belt law at every opportunity, Hunter added.
Each year, more than 42,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Last year, more than half of all passenger vehicle occupants killed in Idaho were not wearing seat belts. The state’s traffic fatality rate is 26 percent higher than the national rate. Additionally, 396 unbelted Idahoans were critically injured in traffic crashes.
“The Idaho state budget pays an estimated $9 million every year for traffic crash injuries that would have been prevented by seat belt use,” said Max Sevareid, of Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center of Seattle. This a study based on hospital charges for motor vehicle crash occupants treated at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center between 2001 and 2004.
Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that at least half of the people killed in car crashes would have survived if they had been wearing seat belts.
“Buckling up is the best defense against serious injury or death for drivers and their passengers, and the best defense against being stopped for breaking the law,” Hunter said. “Everyone involved with the mobilization effort just wants to keep more families safe while they travel the state’s highways.”