Friday, May 20, 2016

Franzen: Stats Show Seat Belts Save Lives

Click It Or Ticket Campaign 

Steve Franzen. Provided. 
By Steven J. Franzen, Campbell County Attorney 

We join the national Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement mobilization running May 23 to June 5.

• In 2015, 761 people were killed on Kentucky’s roadways.

• Of those 761 killed, 588 were motor vehicle fatalities.

• Of those 588 motor vehicle fatalities, 300 (61 percent) were not wearing a seat belt.

• In 2015, 31 children age 15 and under were killed in motor vehicles on Kentucky roadways. Seventeen (55 percent) of those were unrestrained.

While those may sound like just statistics, those of us at the Campbell County Attorney’s Office know from personal experience that those numbers are the actual faces of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles and friends right here in Kentucky. We notify too many families about losses that may have been prevented had a loved one been properly restrained.
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This goes to the heart of our mission to protect the public. That is why we have joined with thousands of state and local law enforcement and other highway safety agencies nationwide to support the 2016 national Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement mobilization running May 23 to June 5.

The good news is Kentucky’s seat belt usage rate increased with the passage of the primary law from 67.2 percent in 2006 to 86.7 percent in 2014. However, that is still below the national usage rate of 88.5 percent.

Seat belts save lives, but must be used to do so. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when worn correctly, seat belts are proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat occupants by 45 percent and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans.

Also according to NHTSA, booster seats lower the risk of injury to children by 60 percent compared to the use of seat belts alone.

Kentucky’s booster seat law was enhanced in 2015 to increase the height requirement to 57 inches and the age requirement to 8 years old. Children younger than 8 but taller than 57 inches will not have to ride in a booster seat.

People often ask, “Aren’t there more serious criminals on the street other than those who simply are not buckling up? They’re not hurting anyone but themselves.”

To the contrary, the people who choose to disobey the law by not wearing their seat belts are taking a chance with not only their lives, but the emotional and financial health of their families, friends and our community.

Death may be the ultimate consequence for not wearing a seat belt, but even for those who escape a fatal crash, the economic costs of injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes are staggering. NHTSA estimates that every year motor vehicle crashes cost our country more than $230.6 billion. That equals more than $800 per person, per year!

Yes, this is a national problem, but law enforcement and first responders see the local faces at too many crash scenes. So, it begins right here in Kentucky. We want to ensure that everyone arrives at their destinations safe and sound, so we are letting you know now: If you are not wearing your seat belt, you will be ticketed. Our officers are also trained to spot seat belt violations at night, so no matter what time of day, they will catch you.

Buckling up costs you nothing, but the costs of not buckling up may be a ticket, or worse – your life. Treat this as a tough and potentially life-saving reminder: Click It or Ticket!

If you have any topics you would like to have covered in this column, please contact my office by email at countyattorney@campbellcountyky.org, by phone at 491-7700 or by regular mail addressed to 319 York St., Newport, KY 41071.

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