Tuesday, May 22, 2012
"Click It or Ticket" Campaign Promotes Use of Seat Belts
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LITTLE ROCK - The national "Click It or Ticket" campaign will be from May 21 through June 3, when law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for drivers who are not wearing a seat belt.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), last year more than 22,000 Americans were killed in traffic accidents and more than half of them, 51 percent, were not wearing seat belts.
Arkansas is one of 32 states with a primary enforcement seat belt law, which means a police officer may ticket a driver for failure to wear a seat belt, even when that is the only reason for pulling over the suspected driver. Act 308 of 2009 is the Arkansas primary enforcement law. Before 2009 Arkansas had a secondary enforcement law, meaning the police could cite drivers for failure to wear a seat belt only after they had stopped them for other traffic offenses, such as speeding.
Since 1994, when many states began enacting mandatory seat belt laws, the use of seat belts has steadily risen and the percentage of people killed in daytime traffic accidents has steadily gone down. The surveys defined a daytime accident as one that occurs between 4 a.m. and 9 p.m.
In 1994, according to the NHTSA, 58 percent of passengers in motor vehicles used a seat belt. By last year the percentage of regular seat belt users had gone up to 84 percent.
National surveys have found that seat belt use is lower at night, in rural areas, among drivers of pickup trucks and among drivers of old vehicles.
Click It or Ticket programs, which include a high profile publicity campaign followed by a period of stepped up enforcement, have been effective in promoting the use of seat belts.
During and immediately after a single Click It or Ticket campaign, seat belt use tends to go up. However, it goes back down after a while. With this trend in mind, North Carolina authorities committed to conducting Click It or Ticket campaigns on a regular basis for a five year period. The use of seat belts increased and stayed at the higher levels. North Carolina's program has been a model for most other states.
In the 1990s, seat belt campaigns were generally known as "Buckle Up" or "Buckle Down" programs and were not conducted uniformly on a national scale. In 2000 there was a national focus to conduct the program among all states, coordinated by the NHTSA. By 2003, there were 45 states in the Click It or Ticket program and soon after all 50 states were participating.
As more people wear seat belts because of more states enacting seat belt laws, the number of tickets issued for failure to wear a seat belt has steadily gone down. Among 55 cities surveyed from 2002 to 2006, the number of citations dropped by 30 percent.
Tick-Related Diseases On the Increase
The state Health Department reports that the number of tick-related illnesses in Arkansas has almost tripled since 2010, perhaps because of recent mild winters.
Symptoms include headache, muscle ache, nausea, rash, vomiting and fever. The Health Department believes that many cases go unreported. Last year 650 cases were reported.
In Arkansas, the four most common diseases that people get from ticks are Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis and Tularemia.