Click It or Ticket campaign kicks offPublished 10:46am Friday, May 24, 2013
BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
WINDSOR—Law enforcement officials were out in force Thursday along Route 460 from Suffolk to Petersburg to promote safety belt use.
This is part of the annual statewide “Click It or Ticket” campaign, which lasts from Monday through Sunday, June 2. In addition to Isle of Wight Sheriff’s deputies, extra officers from Prince George, Southampton, Suffolk, Sussex, Waverly and Windsor will be patrolling during that time.
The local project has been organized in large part by IOW Lt. James Pope. The IW Sheriff’s Office is funding these extra patrols through a grant from the Virginia Highway Safety Office.
“You’re a moving object,” said Pope about unsecured drivers who are in auto accidents. “Your seatbelt is your brake.”
“You’re a 150-pound pinball, and every occupant is also a danger,” said IOW Sheriff Mark Marshall. He added that too many times he and his deputies see the messy and tragic results of people who are hurt or killed in accidents because they weren’t properly secured. He estimated that 30 percent to 40 percent of drivers in crashes weren’t wearing their seatbelts.
“The bottom line is we want voluntary compliance,” said Marshall. “It’s erroneous to think you don’t need a belt even if you’re just going to the store. Most accidents happen within one mile of a person’s residence.”
He added that he’d like to see cars designed not to start unless drivers are secured by the seatbelts.
“Shoulder straps are not enough, said Pope. “A person can still slip out.”
Southampton County Sheriff’s office is also involved in the Click It or Ticket campaign. “Seat belt use is just too important to ignore”, said Southampton County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Major Gene Drewery.
“We want to stress that regularly buckling up works, and we know of too many cases, largely at night, that all too often ends in tragedy,” he added. “Our goal is to save more lives, so Southampton County Sheriff’s Office will be out enforcing ALL traffic laws including seat belt use around the clock.”
Drewery further reported that 41 percent of the fatalities and serious injuries in Southampton County were unrestrained. This puts Southampton County in the top 40 in the state of fatalities and serious injuries with unrestrained drivers
Joining in with the Click It or Ticket campaign is the state highway patrol, who is continuing their active participation in the nationwide program. In a related campaign, an increase in Virginia State Police troopers will be out over the Memorial Day holiday.
The additional patrols statewide are part of the annual Operation C.A.R.E., (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries associated with speed, failure to wear seatbelts and impaired driving. The state-sponsored, national program encourages law enforcement agencies to increase its visibility and traffic enforcement efforts on major travel holidays.
As a result, state police will boost patrols around the Commonwealth beginning Friday morning, May 24, 2013, at 12:01 a.m. and continue through midnight, Monday, May 27.