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Seat belt enforcement campaign begins again

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

In an attempt to "save you from yourself," the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety, and local law enforcement agencies, are once again running a two week, "Click It, Or Ticket" campaign.

Citing accident statistics from 2006, the GOHS reports that public safety agencies are "again launching their statewide strategy to save you from yourself, if you're one of those death-defying motorists who won't wear your safety belt! Police will run road-checks day and night this Memorial Day travel period to target drivers and passengers who don't bother to buckle-up."

The program began on Monday and is scheduled to continue until June 1, one week after the Memorial day weekend.

Locally, the Clayton County Police Department and some city departments are participating in the campaign.

According to the GOHS, more than half of the Georgians killed in car crashes weren't wearing seat belts. The office estimates more than 650 people would have survived fatal accidents in 2006, if they had been wearing seat belts as required by law.

The office estimates that 15 of the 22 people killed during car wrecks on Memorial Day weekend two years ago, died because they weren't wearing seat belts.

In the Southern Crescent, seat belt use hovers around 90 percent. Georgia, with the same percentage, is among the top 10 states for seat belt usage. National usage rates come in at 81 percent, with New Hampshire and Wyoming holding the lowest rates at around 60 percent usage.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an increase in enforcement, with the publicity surrounding the GOHS's annual campaign, increases seat belt use by about 8.6 percent.

NHTSA studies also found 72 percent of those wearing seat belts survived serious accidents in 2006, and seat belt use was calculated to reduce the risk of death by 45 to 60 percent, depending on the vehicles involved in the accident.

There are "no excuse," according to GOHS. "That's why they ticket."