05/24/07 — Drivers who don't use seat belts will find themselves with tickets

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Drivers who don't use seat belts will find themselves with tickets

By Lee Williams
Published in News on May 24, 2007 1:45 PM

Buckle up or pay the price.

That's the message local law enforcement officials want to send to citizens as they participate in a two-week Click It or Ticket seat belt campaign from now until June 3.

Officials from the Governor's Highway Safety Program, Wayne County District Attorney's Office and members of several law enforcement agencies convened at the Goldsboro Police Department on John Street about 3 p.m. Wednesday to announce the initiative geared to increase seat belt usage because seat belts save lives.

"Nearly one in five Americans, that's 19 percent nationally, still fail to regularly wear their seat belts when driving or riding in a motor vehicle," Governor's Highway Safety Program director Darrell Jernigan told the crowd. "Over 700 unrestrained motorists were fatally injured on North Carolina roads last year. Between March 31 to April 8, 10 out of 13 people that were fatally injured in North Carolina traffic crashes were not wearing their seat belts."

Jernigan issued a "buckle up challenge" to Wayne County to increase its seat belt usage rates during Wednesday's event.

Wayne County is one of eight counties that have the lowest safety belt usage rates. The state's goal is 90 percent, and Wayne County has an 86.6 percent rate.

State officials unveiled their seat belt "convincer" during the event to further drive home the message of the importance of seat belts.

One by one, officials climbed on top of the machine and buckled up. A lever was released, and the passenger slid down and slammed into a metal device.

The force of collision caused each participant's body to shake vigorously.

"The purpose of the Seat Belt Convincer is to demonstrate how much force is generated even just as slow as 5 mph," said John Stokes, grant specialist for the Governor's Highway Safety Program.

Beth Horner, the program's spokeswoman, explained the vehicle's air bag would not have deployed in a 5 mph crash, but the impact on the body would still be significant.

Eager to prevent the number of fatality crashes this Memorial Day weekend, local law enforcement agencies plan to conduct various license checks around the area.

Goldsboro police posted signs along the roads informing residents about the Click It or Ticket campaign. Those who don't take heed will be sorry, officials said.

"We set up signs warning people that you are in the Click It or Ticket checkpoint areas, and we're going to be writing tickets," Goldsboro police Sgt. G.C. Keesler said. "We don't want to write any tickets. We want everyone to comply, but if you're not wearing it, we're going to write you a ticket and there's no ands, ifs or buts. If we stop you and you weren't wearing your seat belt when we saw you, we're going to write you a ticket."