NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Highway Patrol will join the Governor’s Highway Safety Office and law enforcement agencies across the state and country for the 2011 Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign, May 23 through June 5. This initiative includes the Memorial Day holiday weekend and urges all drivers and passengers to wear their seat belts – both day and night.
“The nationwide Click it or Ticket campaign is especially important during the summer holiday travel season,” said Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons. “Hopefully, the high-visibility enforcement efforts of the Tennessee Highway Patrol will remind motorists to always buckle up. It will save them the cost of a ticket and maybe even their lives.”
The 2011 Memorial Day holiday period begins at 6 p.m., Friday May 27, and will end at 11:59 p.m., Monday, May 30. Thirteen people were killed on Tennessee roadways during the 2010 Memorial Day holiday weekend. That’s down from 16 fatalities in 2009. Last year, alcohol was involved in none of the fatal crashes, but 50 percent of the vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts. During the 78-hour holiday time period, one pedestrian and two motorcyclists were killed.
Preliminary figures show that 1,030 people were killed on Tennessee roadways in 2010. Of the 787 people killed in passenger vehicle crashes, more than half of them were not wearing seat belts. Of the 355 killed during nighttime hours, 59 percent (211) were unrestrained. Among the 432 killed during the day, 49 percent (212) were unrestrained.
“We are proud to be one of many law enforcement agencies cracking down on motorists who fail to wear their seat belts,” THP Colonel Tracy Trott said. “Our young people have the highest percentage of any age group to be killed and unrestrained in traffic crashes. It’s important that we lead by example and buckle up every time we get in a vehicle.”
Among passenger vehicle occupants ages 13 to 15 years old who were killed in crashes nationwide in 2009, 67 percent were not buckled up – the highest percentage for any age group, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In Tennessee in 2010, 90 percent of vehicle occupants aged 13-15 killed were not restrained. Also, in 2010, 54 percent of Tennessee fatalities occurred in rural areas and 64 percent of pickup truck occupants killed in traffic crashes were not wearing safety restraints.
“By creating greater public awareness, the Click it or Ticket campaign has helped increase the 2010 national seat belt usage rate climb to 85 percent,” said GHSO Director Kendall Poole. “More traffic deaths can be prevented if motorists simply start wearing their seat belts. It’s a fact; seat belts clearly save lives.”
According to NHTSA, in 2009, nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of those killed in traffic crashes at night were not wearing their seat belts, compared to 44 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants killed during the daytime hours of 6 a.m. to 5:59 p.m. nationwide. When worn correctly, seat belts have been proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent, and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans.
Drivers can expect to see plenty of State Troopers on the road, enforcing seat belt laws and looking for aggressive and impaired drivers. The THP Nashville District has even organized a multi-jurisdictional 12-hour DUI Enforcement blitz, beginning at 4 p.m., Saturday, May 28 and ending at 4 a.m., Sunday, May 29. Agencies joining State Troopers during “Operation Blitz” include GHSO, the Millersville Police Department, Crossplains Police Department and Robertson County Sheriff’s Department. Together, they will conduct saturation patrols and bar checks throughout Robertson County, and hold a Saturday night sobriety checkpoint on State Route 257 near Interstate 65 in Robertson County.
More than 70 checkpoints are scheduled throughout the long holiday weekend in an effort to reduce fatalities and serious injury crashes in the state. A list of the times and locations of scheduled checkpoints are provided in the attached release. A 2010 Memorial Holiday statistical report is also attached.
For more information on the 2011 Click it or Ticket initiative, visit www.NHTSA.gov
In 2011, preliminary statistics indicate 314 people have died on Tennessee roadways, a decline of 70 deaths compared to 384 fatalities at this same time in 2010. During the 2009 Memorial Day holiday, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security launched its Traffic Fatality Victims’ Memorial, designed to give family members of those killed an opportunity to memorialize and remember their loved ones. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.tn.gov/safety/pubsafety/fatalitymemorial.html