Dip in seat belt use has police stepping up patrols
Police will be out in full force trying to reverse a dip in seat belt use across the state.
Starting Wednesday, law enforcement officers in 55 counties plan a series of safety belt enforcement zones leading up to and including the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Drivers are being put on alert via a short but attention-getting ad campaign that the annual
Click It or Ticket
traffic enforcement mobilization is just around the corner. Click It or Ticket messages will appear on TV, cable, radio and Internet sites as well as billboards.
The federally funded mobilization is meant to reverse a decline in the state's seat belt use rate that began in 2010 and continued through last year when belt use hit 93.6 percent, down from the all-time high of 97.9 percent in 2009.
The program combines high visibility enforcement and intense publicity to remind motorists about the state's seat belt law and the importance of buckling up.
"Despite a high observed belt use rate, we know that about half of the vehicle occupants who die in crashes are unbelted," said Michael L. Prince, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP). "This mobilization seeks to ultimately save lives and reduce injuries."
The advertising campaign's primary audience is young men, who have lower seat belt use rates and a higher likelihood of being involved in a crash. Billboards and ads during sporting events ensure the message reaches a broad audience as well. Seat belt use in Michigan: Drivers are more likely to buckle up than passengers. Women have higher seat belt use rates than men. Pickup truck drivers have the lowest seat belt use rate of any vehicle type.
Advertising, community outreach and well-marked enforcement zones are meant to increase seat belt use. This brief but focused effort has paid big dividends for the state. While the advertising blitz is just two weeks long, a statewide phone survey indicates nearly 90 percent of Michigan residents know and recognize the Click It or Ticket campaign.
The state's primary seat belt law coupled with an annual enforcement push has helped reduce traffic deaths and injuries.
Here are a few statistics released by the Michigan State Police about seat belt use:
Pickup truck drivers have the lowest seat belt use rate of any vehicle type.
Seat belt use is lowest for young men driving pickup trucks.
Drivers are more likely to buckle up than passengers.
Women have higher seat belt use rates than men.
Last year, Michigan officers issued 8,125 seat belt citations and 213 child restraint citations during the seat belt enforcement period. Of the ten people who died over the Memorial Day holiday period in 2012, three of the seven vehicle occupants were not wearing a seat belt.
A safety belt enforcement zone is marked with a large portable sign. Law enforcement officers are stationed throughout this area looking for and stopping unbuckled motorists.
Michigan law requires all drivers and passengers 15 and younger in any seating position to be buckled up. Children must be in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall.
The new Buckle-phobia Click It or Ticket tv ad can be viewed at Youtube.com/ohsp.
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