WATERBURY — The Thanksgiving holiday opens a busy season for motorists traveling throughout Vermont. To encourage the motoring public to use their seatbelts, the Governor's Highway Safety Program (GHSP) will be sponsoring a holiday Click It or Ticket (CIOT) enforcement campaign.
Vermonters can expect to see an increased number of state, county and local law enforcement officers patrolling the state's roads enforcing occupant protection laws. GHSP annually manages the CIOT campaigns utilizing federal funds allocated for vehicle occupant protection. This year's campaign will begin on Wednesday, Nov. 21, and continue through Sunday, Nov. 25.
This increased volume of vehicles will include families heading to their holiday destinations as well as shoppers, commuters, and daily traffic that routinely use our roads. Those traveling should make sure all occupants are using proper safety restraints while in their vehicles. Officers will be particularly focused on those who are not wearing seatbelts or children not properly secured in safety seats as required by state law.
So far this year, 70 people have lost their lives on Vermont roads. Unfortunately 40 of those killed were not properly restrained. The statewide seatbelt usage rate is just over 84 percent, which is slightly below the national average use rate of 85 percent. Vermont has deployed the Click It or Ticket model since 2002, and has seen some success, considering the usage rate stood at 67 percent in 2001.
Tom Fields, the Law Enforcement Liaison for GHSP, emphasizes how important it is to be properly restrained while traveling in a vehicle.
"Wearing your seatbelt is the single most important safety device available to anyone riding in a motor vehicle,” he says. “Please take that extra second it takes to put on your belt. It can be difference whether you're killed, seriously injured, or successfully survive a crash".
Ted Minall the GHSP Chief, hopes educating the public will encourage them to buckle up.
“If no tickets are issued during this campaign and police find everyone they stop is buckled up, we'll have accomplished our goals,” Minall says. “The only purpose of the campaign is saving lives by increasing seat belt use."
Lt. John Flannigan, the Commander of the Vermont State Police Traffic Unit, will be supervising the extra state troopers patrolling the interstates and other roads. Lt. Flannigan asks motorists to "slow down, drive with commonsense, leave early for your destination so you don't have to rush, and don't drive if you've been drinking".