State and local law enforcement officers across Arkansas are sending a reminder: Drivers who aren’t already in the habit of using a seat belt need to start. Without it, drivers will be stopped and ticketed. Much worse, someone not buckled-up stands a greater chance of losing their life in a traffic crash.

Starting next week, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement operation gets underway. State troopers, local police officers and sheriff’s deputies will heighten their vigilance to be on the lookout for seat belt violators. The operation coincides with the Memorial Day holiday and runs May 24 through June 6.

“We want the practice of buckling up to become something that’s instinctive for drivers and their passengers,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety representative. “It’s not just a safe way to travel, it’s the law.”

Almost everyday law enforcement officers in Arkansas see firsthand what happens when someone involved in a traffic crash wasn’t wearing a seat belt. During the Click It or Ticket campaign, law enforcement officers nationwide will be working overtime to ensure the message gets out to drivers and their passengers.

According to the 2019 records from NHTSA, 9,466 drivers and passengers who were unbuckled died in crashes nationwide. During the same year, 55 percent of passenger vehicle occupants involved in crashes were not wearing seat belts and lost their lives during nighttime hours (6 p.m. – 5:59 a.m.). As a result, law enforcement authorities participating in the Click It or Ticket operation will be placing an emphasis on increased patrols during the evening hours.

State troopers and local officers and deputies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt enforcement, writing citations day and night.

Arkansas state law requires all front seat passengers, not just drivers, to be properly buckled up. The state law also requires all children less than 15 years of age to be properly secured in the vehicle. Children less than 6 years of age and weighing less than 60 pounds should be restrained in a child passenger safety seat. Additionally, drivers with restricted licenses and all occupants in the vehicle must be properly buckled up.

“Help us share the message,” Colonel Bryant said. “Tell your friends and family members to make it a habit to buckle-up. Your advice may save someone from injury or death.”

For more information on the Click It or Ticket mobilization, visit www.nhtsa.gov/ciot or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. 

For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDArkansas.org.

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