Merrillville Police to participate in Click It or Ticket campaign
The national seat belt campaign, which coincides with the Memorial Day holiday, runs from May 15 to June 4, 2023. The overtime patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with grants administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).
“We want seat belt use to be an automatic habit for drivers and passengers alike,” said Lt. Kurt Horvath. “It’s not just a safe thing to do — it’s the law. During the Click It or Ticket campaign, we’ll be working with our fellow law enforcement officers across local and state lines to ensure the message gets out to drivers and passengers. Buckling up is the simplest thing you can do to limit injury or save your life during a crash. We see the results of not wearing a seat belt all the time. We see the loss of life. So often, it could have been prevented.”
Data from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) shows that unbuckled motorists make up almost 40% of all passenger vehicle deaths in the state. Since the “Click It or Ticket” initiative began more than 20 years ago, seat belt use has gone up over 30% in Indiana to 93%, which remains higher than the national average of 91.6%.
Despite making progress and advances in vehicle safety, in 2022, 236 unbuckled vehicle occupants lost their lives on Indiana roads – the third highest in the past decade. Young drivers, especially males, were the most likely to speed and the least likely to be buckled during a crash.
“These numbers are not just statistics, they represent real people and families that have been forever changed by the tragedy of a traffic crash,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “Many of the people we lost would still be alive today had they made the decision to buckle up. Seat belts make a difference. They save lives.”
In 2021, 57% of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m.–5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts. That’s why one focus of the Click It or Ticket campaign is nighttime enforcement.
During the campaign, participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night. Drivers can be cited for lack of seat belt use, as well as for each unbuckled passenger under the age of 16.
“No matter the type of vehicle you’re driving in or the type of road you’re driving on, the safest way to stay safe in case of a vehicle crash is to wear your seat belt,” said Lt. Kurt Horvath. “Unfortunately, many families are suffering because their loved ones refused to follow this simple step.”
NHTSA data shows that seat belt use is higher among females than males. In fact, nearly twice as many males were killed in crashes as compared to females in 2021. Of the males killed in crashes during that same year, more than half (54%) were unrestrained. For females killed in crashes, 42% were not buckled up.
“If the enforcement effort alerts people to the dangers of unrestrained driving, we’ll consider our mission to be a success,” said Lt. Kurt Horvath. “If you know a friend or a family member who does not buckle up when they drive, please ask them to consider changing their habits. Help us spread this lifesaving message before one more friend or family member is killed as a result of not buckling up. Seat belts save lives, and everyone — front seat and back, child and adult — needs to remember to buckle up.”
Research has repeatedly demonstrated the safety benefits of seat belts and the dangerous consequences when people choose not to use them. Buckling up can reduce the risk of injury or death in a crash by up to 65%. Without a seat belt fastened, people can be ejected from a vehicle and killed, and that risk increases if the driver is speeding or impaired.
Tragically, vehicle collisions continue to be a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13, and NHTSA data shows that approximately 46% of all car seats are being used incorrectly. Parents and caregivers who do not buckle up are more likely to have kids who are improperly restrained.
"The loss of a child due to inadequate vehicle safety measures is a tragedy. However, it is also preventable," said Jim Bryan, ICJI Traffic Safety Director. "We owe it to our children to prioritize their safety and take every necessary precaution when it comes to their well-being.”
Indiana law requires the driver and all passengers to buckle up. Children under age eight must be properly restrained in a child car seat or booster seat according to the child restraint system manufacturer’s instructions.
Parents and caregivers are encouraged to make sure children are in the right car seat and that it’s used correctly and properly installed. Resources can be found at www.nhtsa.gov/TheRightSeat. To schedule an appointment with a certified car seat safety technician at one of Indiana’s fitting stations, visit on.in.gov/SafeKids.
The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) is the state planning agency for criminal justice, juvenile justice, traffic safety and victim services. ICJI is designated as the state administering agency for distribution of federal funds and as the state Statistical Analysis Center for research. ICJI is responsible for coordinating and collaborating with local, state and federal entities to identify, assess, plan, resource and evaluate new and emerging issues facing the criminal justice and public safety spectrum. Visit www.cji.in.gov to learn more about the agency.