Memorial Day weekend is just one weekend in May that makes many people feel like summer is just around the corner. There is unfortunately a correlation between the anticipation of the seasonal change and motorists and passengers wearing seatbelts less while traveling. Our accident attorneys learned that due to increased travel during the holiday weekend over the last few years, an average of 12.2 percent more traffic fatalities generally occurred than during comparable non-holiday time frames. Additionally, about 39,500 more injuries resulted from motor vehicle accidents. These injuries and fatalities were often due to drivers and passengers not wearing their seatbelts.
Thankfully, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s “Click it or Ticket” annual campaign was created a few years ago in order to increase seatbelt usage throughout the country. Because of the above statistics and injury rates, the most campaigning is usually completed before and on Memorial Day weekend. During this time, state and local law enforcement agencies crack down on motorists who are not wearing seatbelts. Chicago.cbslocal.com released that over the recent holiday weekend, the campaign saved an estimated 330 people. NHTSA states that the safety belt enforcement campaign was responsible for successfully contributing to the highest national safety belt usage rate of 85 percent.
Thirty-three states, including Illinois, have principal seat belt laws that allow police officers to ticket motorists or passengers for not wearing seat belts. In addition, sixteen states have secondary laws that allow officers to issue tickets to unbelted motorists or passengers only when there is a “citable traffic violation” at play. (Freep.com). Among primary law states, Illinois issued the most citations last year, a massive 74,364 as compared to Arkansas, for example, which had the lowest at 435. These numbers are presented as seen on NHTSA’s most recent “Click It or Ticket Evaluation Report.”
It is unfortunate that so many states do not have principle seat belt laws, considering the states that do average 78 percent seat belt use versus 63 percent in the states that have secondary enforcement. In 2011, seatbelts saved an estimated 11,949 lives nationwide, according to NHTSA. Deputy executive director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Association states the most effective action for raising the national seat belt rate would be for more states to pass primary laws, which would therefore aid in preventing an estimated 5,536 fatalities and 132,670 injuries and would save our country $8.8 billion annually.
We want to emphasize that no matter what time of the year you are traveling, wearing your seatbelt is essential. It is simply one of the most effective means of reducing injuries and saving lives behind the wheel. Making sure that all passengers are wearing their seatbelts is also important, and that children are properly restrained in safety seats that fit their age, weight, and size. Research shows that when a driver is not wearing his or her seatbelt, children in that vehicle will not be buckled 70 percent of the time. Taking the small step of wearing a seatbelt will help to protect you and your loved ones and may potentially prevent devastating injuries if an accident takes place.
Our law firm provides qualified legal representation to individuals and families who have been in an accident as the result of negligent motorists. Accident lawsuits help victims recover compensation for injuries or costs experienced as a result of an accident. If you or someone you know has suffered injury or death due to a negligent motorist, please contact us for more information.