‘Click It or Ticket’ in effect across Louisiana

Published 2:10 pm Friday, May 16, 2014

Officers from law enforcement agencies throughout Louisiana are mobilizing Monday through June 1 to ticket unbuckled motorists in an effort to increase seat belt use and save lives.

The initiative is part of the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, an annual drive of intensified enforcement of Louisiana’s seat belt law.

Louisiana’s seat belt use increased to 82.5 percent of drivers and front-seat passengers in 2013 but continues to lag behind the nationwide average by several percentage points. Louisiana’s highway death rate would drop significantly if all vehicle drivers and passengers buckled up on every trip.

“Lack of seat belt use is a leading cause of deaths and serious injuries from crashes in Louisiana. It’s why Louisiana law requires all motorists to use seat belts and age-appropriate safety seats,” said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, which is coordinating the Click It or Ticket campaign. “Officers will be working hundreds of overtime hours during the Click It or Ticket campaign to enforce the law. The best way to avoid getting a ticket is to buckle up.”

The two-week enforcement wave includes Memorial Day, traditionally among the worse holidays for traffic deaths in Louisiana . In 2012, 11 people were killed and 495 were injured in crashes over the Memorial Day holiday, second in fatalities only to the five-day Thanksgiving holiday when 13 people died in crashes.

The Click It or Ticket campaign includes intensified patrols, checkpoints and other enforcement tactics.

Col. Mike Edmonson, superintendent of Louisiana State Police, said his troopers are committed to the Click It or Ticket campaign.

“The Click It or Ticket campaign is an important enforcement effort in Louisiana and across the nation,” Edmonson said. “Enforcement and education are powerful tools that we hope convince drivers to obey seat belt and other laws. Troopers and our local agency partners will be out in force through the length of the campaign. Make safety a priority by buckling up.”

Louisiana first participated in Click It or Ticket in 2003, which resulted in a five percentage-point increase in statewide use of seat belts. In 2013, 82.5 percent of drivers and front seat passengers were wearing seat belts, the highest number ever recorded in Louisiana. Only about 12 percent of motorists statewide buckled up prior to enactment of the state’s first seat belt law in the mid-1980s.

The Click It or Ticket campaign also reminds drivers and passengers that Louisiana law requires every vehicle occupant––including those in rear seats––to buckle their seat belts. Children must be in age-appropriate safety seats.

There are 117 law enforcement agencies and traffic safety coalitions and partners, statewide, participating in the Click It or Ticket campaign. Agencies participating in the campaign received grants from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission to pay overtime costs involved in the increased enforcement. Click It or Ticket is a nationwide campaign coordinated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

During the 2013 Click It or Ticket campaign, officers issued 15,614 seat belt, and 1,089 child passenger citations. A total of 65,236 seat belt, and 4,831 child passenger safety citations were issued throughout the year.

LeBlanc said the significance of Click it or Ticket extends well beyond the campaign period, especially for law enforcement officers who have witnessed crash sites where unbuckled motorists were thrown from vehicles.

“Proper use of seat belts by everyone in the vehicle at all times is a highly effective way of reducing the chance of being seriously injured or killed in a crash,” LeBlanc said. “The campaign slogan says it all: ‘Click It or Ticket. Day & Night.’”