WASHINGTON – A driver is stuffing his face with a cheeseburger in one hand, steering his car with the other and listening to rock music. However, when he sees the lights of a police roadblock ahead he starts fumbling to slip his seat belt on at the last minute and dropping his meal on his lap. Another driver is sipping on a 44-ounce soda until he spots a cop on the side of the road and scrambles to buckle up by faking he’s wearing his seat belt before he is caught.
Indeed these are just two of the scenes depicted in a new public service announcement commercial released by the Department of Transportation for its new 2012 “Click It or Ticket” campaign.
The voiceover that goes with the images says: “The next time you fake wearing you seatbelt remember this, cops have been trained to spot seat belt violations even at night and they don’t give out fake tickets. Day or night. Click it or ticket.”
The DOT and national safety advocates are using the commercial to kick off its annual campaign by highlighting unsafe attempts by drivers to fake wearing their seat belts when they see a police officer.
Over the past five years since it began the annual campaign, NHTSA data shows that nationwide more than three million seat belt citations have been issued.
“Thanks to decades of hard work alongside our safety partners, drivers are buckling up when they get behind the wheel” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “But we can’t stop our safety efforts. During last year’s mobilization, law enforcement issued almost 500,000 tickets to drivers who failed to wear a seat belt.”
Beginning on Memorial Day, thousands of law enforcement officers across the United States will be participating in the “Click It or Ticket” crackdown, DOT reports. The advertising campaign, geared toward the 18 to 34 year old male driver, kicks off nationally May 14-28. This group of drivers is particularly susceptible to traffic fatalities. In fact, 66% of unrestrained occupants killed in traffic crashes in 2010 were in this age and gender group — the highest proportion among all occupants.
“Victims who are injured in traffic accidents that were not wearing a seat belt not only have more serious injuries or death, but they are partially liable for their injuries and it can limit their claim against the at-fault driver,” said Attorney West Seegmiller, founder of the Seegmiller Law Firm in Southern California.
According to studies conducted by the NHTSA, seat belt use among all drivers was at 84% for 2011. Seat belts have saved thousands of lives each year nationwide, but in 2010 there were still 241 passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes during the Memorial Day holiday period. Nearly two-thirds of these fatalities occurred at night between the hours of 6:00 PM and 5:59AM — when the risk of being in a crash triples — and 66 percent were not belted.
The Seegmiller Law Firm can be reached at 1-855-ASK–WEST. For over 30 years, the firm has been a staunch advocate for victims’ rights and has fought for clients involved in personal injury and wrongful death cases, including premises liability, product liability, auto accidents, dog bites, nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, at-work injuries and more. The firm has offices in Irvine, Riverside, Los Angeles and San Bernardino, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada.