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Alabama Launches 2002 Memorial Day Click It or Ticket Campaign

After Highly Successful 2001 Campaign

Contact: ShaDel Williams, Lewis Communications



Alabama's Third Click It or Ticket Campaign Cracks Down on Adults Who Don't Buckle up Themselves or Their Children

(Birmingham, Alabama) — Just a few years ago, Alabama had the 11th worst fatality rate in the nation. Now, it has the nation’s 10th highest seat belt usage rate. Since 1999, Alabama’s seat belt usage rate has climbed from 58 percent to 79.4 percent. In 2000, as compared to 1999, there were 162 fewer deaths and 3,600 fewer injuries as a result of traffic crashes.

Despite Alabama’s rising seat belt usage rate, there are still drivers who don’t buckle up themselves or their children. In fact, more that 20 percent of Alabamians still refuse to buckle up. These drivers should beware because the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) is conducting an enforcement blitz involving every law enforcement agency in Alabama to crack down on drivers who violate adult seat belt or child passenger safety laws.

"Although Alabama’s current seat belt usage rate is 79.4 percent, this is not enough," said Colonel James Alexander, director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety. "The truth is that there remains a portion of the population that refuses to wear seat belts. This is especially true in certain geographic areas like Montgomery, Mobile and Etowah counties. With seat belt usage rates below 70 percent, these three counties will be especially targeted during the campaign."

In 2000, 78.8 percent (801) of the 986 Alabamians who died in crashes were unrestrained. Research shows that minorities are less likely to wear their seat belts and, therefore, at a greater risk to be involved in car crashes that result in serious injury or death. In Alabama, African-Americans buckle up 5 percent less than whites and Latinos buckle up 20 percent less than whites. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for African-American children under the age of fourteen. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Latinos ages 1-44 and the third leading cause of death overall for Latinos of all ages, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer.

"Not only will we target geographic areas with low seat belt usage rates, but we will also concentrate on getting the word out in the minority community," said Colonel Alexander. "We value all lives equally and are concerned that we are loosing African-Americans and Latinos at such a high rate. We have to make sure that our African-American and Latino citizens realize the importance of wearing seat belts and their ability to save lives."

From May 20 through June 2, Alabama law enforcement agencies will conduct over 1,000 public safety checkpoints and line patrols to step up enforcement as part of Click It or Ticket—an aggressive, high-visibility effort to save lives. There will be an emphasis placed on areas that have low seat belt usage rates. People who are not buckled up, or, whose young children are not in child safety seats, will be ticketed.

Safety experts predict that by raising the current 79.4 percent usage rate to 85 percent, 44 lives will be saved, 456 injuries will be prevented and Alabama will save $48,543,320.

During the enforcement wave in Alabama, officers from municipal agencies, sheriff departments and state highway patrol will stop and ticket drivers who violate seat belt laws. In addition to other methods, officers are stepping up enforcement through public safety checkpoints. This crackdown will be coupled with an aggressive television and radio advertising campaign to alert the public that if they or their children aren’t buckled up, they will get a ticket.

"This crackdown is just as important as it was the first time we participated because we are continuing to put lives at risk on our highways," said James H. Fry, liaison, Law Enforcement and Traffic Safety Division of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. "We cannot and will not tolerate drivers who recklessly put lives at risk."

Click It or Ticket is a partnership between Governor Don Siegelman, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the Alabama Department of Public Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Citizens with comments or questions about the enforcement aspect of the campaign may call 1-877-282-5425. For more information, call (334)242-5897 or visit www.clickit-or-ticket.com.