Failure to buckle up can result in citations, officials warn
The majority of traffic fatalities involving unbuckled victims occurred at night last year, spurring a nighttime emphasis on a “Click It or Ticket” seat-belt enforcement effort beginning Monday and extending through June 9, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).
PennDOT is partnering with more than 600 law enforcement agencies and the Pennsylvania State Police on the initiative, a PennDOT news release said.
“With heavy traffic expected for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, it’s crucial that we encourage drivers now to make sure that all passengers are properly restrained whenever they travel,” State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said. “I’m again directing our troopers to adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward violations of the state’s seat-belt and child-passenger restraint laws during this campaign period.”
Motorists are reminded that Pennsylvania’s primary seat-belt law requires drivers and passengers under 18 years old to buckle up, and children under the age of 4 must be properly restrained in an approved child-safety seat. Children ages 4 to 8 must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat. In addition, children ages 8 to 18 must be buckled when riding anywhere in the vehicle.
Also, drivers and front-seat passengers aged 18 or older are required to buckle up. If motorists are stopped for a traffic violation and are not wearing their seat belt, they can receive a second ticket and second fine.
According to PennDOT data, 503 people died last year in unbelted crashes, a decrease from 509 such fatalities in 2011. The total number of crashes in which people were not wearing seat belts also decreased to 15,528, compared to 16,298 in 2011. Among the unbuckled fatalities, 275 occurred between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m., and 170 occurred between 10 p.m. and 2:59 a.m.
“As the start of the summer travel season approaches, I strongly encourage everyone to buckle up every time, no matter how far you’re traveling,” PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. “The majority of crashes happen within 25 miles from home, and you are 60 percent more likely to survive a crash if you’re buckled up.”
Funding for the enforcement effort comes from part of PennDOT’s statewide distribution of $1.7 million in federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the release said. Visit www.JustDrivePA.com for more information on seat-belt and other safety initiatives.