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Authorities urge drivers to buckle up over holiday

Published: Friday, May 24, 2013 11:32 a.m. CDT

As motorists take to the roads this Memorial Day holiday, Iowa law enforcement officials are urging everyone to buckle up. Law enforcement officers will be out in full force as part of the 2013 National “Click It or Ticket” seat belt enforcement mobilization cracking down on motorists who are not belted as well as other traffic violators. While this Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilization runs through June 2, officers are enforcing seat belt laws year-round.

“As we kick-off the busy summer driving season it’s important that everyone buckles up every time they go out, both day and night — no excuses,” said Randy Hunefeld sTEP Coordinator with the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau. “Officers are prepared to ticket anyone not wearing a seat belt — Click It or Ticket.”

According to the U.S. DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 52 percent of the 21,253 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2011 weren’t wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. Deaths involving seat belt nonuse are more prevalent at night. According to NHTSA, 62 percent of the 10,135 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2011 during the hours of 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m. weren’t wearing seat belts. In 2011, seat belts saved an estimated 11,949 lives nationwide according to NHTSA.

In 2012, Iowa had 364 fatalities and according to Iowa DOT data, 167 of those victims or 45.88 percent were unbuckled. For those killed in crashes at night, the percent unbuckled grew another 15.5 percent.

Iowa has had a seat belt law since July 1, 1986.

“Seat belts save thousands of lives every year, but far too many Iowans still ride unbelted, especially at night when the risk of a crash is even greater,” Hunefeld said. “We want everyone to have a safe summer, but it requires an important step on the part of motorists — clicking that seat belt, every time day or night.”

During the four-day March 2012 sTEP wave, 205 agencies and 1,828 officers reported 16,922 traffic violations, investigated 388 traffic crashes and assisted 879 motorists.

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