TN law enforcement to focus on seat belt ticketing during Memorial Day holiday

News release from Governor’s Highway Safety Office:
Just ahead of one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, cops will be cracking down on seat belt violators. The Governor’s Highway Safety Office is partnering with law enforcement statewide May 18 – 31 for the national Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilization. The campaign kickoff took place on Monday, May 18th at Cool Springs Galleria in Franklin.

“Tennessee reached its highest seat belt use rate last year at 87.71%. However, we are still considered a ‘low use’ state on a national level,” said Governor’s Highway Safety Office Director Kendell Poole. “More than half of our traffic fatalities are unrestrained at the time of the crash. Imagine what even a small increase in our usage rate could do to the number of deaths and injuries each year.”

A new initiative taking place during Click It or Ticket is the “Border to Border Operation”, beginning at 6:00 p.m on May 18th. Law enforcement agencies will join forces to provide increased seat belt enforcement at state borders, sending a zero tolerance message to the public: driving or riding unbuckled will result in a ticket, no matter what state. This additional overnight enforcement is a result of the national research indicating that unbelted fatalities are more prevalent at night.

Among those speaking at the kickoff included four middle Tennessee traffic crash survivors. In December, the McMurtry family was traveling eastbound on SR 840 when they lost control of their vehicle. After running off the road and striking a large natural stone wall, their vehicle overturned several times. “Because we were wearing our seatbelts, we all walked out of that car with just scrapes and bruises. Not a single broken bone,” said Kayla, daughter. “My point here is this: we like to think that it won’t happen to us. That just one time won’t hurt. But my story proves that you never know.”

“Members of the Franklin Police Department enforce the seat belt law because we know they save lives,” said Franklin Police Chief Deborah Faulkner. “We will use every opportunity to get this message out, especially as it relates to protecting our children.” Last month, Governor Haslam signed a new law that will raise the fine for seat belt violations. Beginning January 2016, the fine for not wearing your seat belt will more than double.

Tennesseans can expect to see more law enforcement out on the road during the remainder of the month, looking specifically for seat belt violators. “Today, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office is joining other law enforcement agencies to urge the public to use their seat belts and make it a habit. We want the number of traffic fatalities to go down in Williamson County and across the state,” said Sheriff Jeff Long.

Dr. Oscar Guillamondegui, Trauma Medical Director at Vanderbilt Medical Center, detailed the devastating consequences he has observed when people choose not to buckle up. “Seat belts prevent 50% of deaths associated with motor vehicle crashes compared to those who do not use restraints. They also reduce lower extremity injury by one third. I would rather not see you on my operating table – make the smart choice to keep yourself, and those around you, safe.”

Another regional kickoff for the Click It or Ticket campaign will be taking place in East Tennessee on Wednesday, May 20, in Lenoir City.

For more information about seat belt safety, visit the Governor’s Highway Safety Office website at www.tntrafficsafety.org.

Note: Previous post on the Legislature voting to increase the basic fine for not wearing a seat belt from $10 to $25 is HERE.