The Blount County Sheriff’s office on May 7 joined with hundreds of other law enforcement agencies across the country in renewing a pledge to save lives by intensifying efforts to enforce seat belt laws during the 2008 Click It or Ticket mobilization.
The campaign runs from May 19 through June 1. To kick off Click It or Ticket, as well as the Hands Across the Border campaign, the Sheriff’s Office joined other area law enforcement agencies and the Tennessee Governor’s Highway Safety Office for a press event on May 14 at the Tennessee Highway Patrol on Kingston Pike in Knoxville.
In 2006, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 15,046 passenger vehicle occupants were killed between the nighttime hours of 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of those killed at night were not wearing seat belts - compared to less than half (46 percent) of the passenger vehicle occupants killed during daytime hours.
Along with nighttime motorists, men - particularly young men - are among those less likely to buckle up. In 2006, 73 percent of male passenger vehicle occupants between the ages of 18 and 34 who were killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts.
According to a press release, all young people are at greatly increased risk. Sixty-four percent of teenage passenger vehicle occupants killed in fatal crashes during 2006 were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crashes. The 2006 observed seat belt usage rate of those 16 to 24 was lower than any other age group.
“It is clear that far too many people still don’t take belt laws seriously,” Sheriff Berrong said. “Among some groups, especially young men, the unbuckled rate is especially high, and the fatal crash rate increases significantly at night.”
In Blount County, the seat belt usage rate is higher than the national average - 85 percent. Sheriff Berrong attributes that high rate to the vigilant efforts of the BCSO Patrol and Traffic Divisions.