As Arkansas families begin to make plans for summertime road trips and vacations, law enforcement officers are urging motorists to obey the law and buckle their seat belts.
Beginning next week additional patrol assignments have been scheduled for law enforcement officers across Arkansas who are devoting time to strictly enforce Arkansas’ primary seat belt law.
The enforcement plan includes the Arkansas State Police and local departments represented by the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police and the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association. The special operation begins May 20 and continues through June 2 as part of the “Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign.
“As part of a national effort, officers will be out in force across the state to remind motorists that seat belt use is not optional,” said Col. Bill Bryant, director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety representative.
“It is a mandatory, life-saving measure that must be taken seriously, every day and every night, without exception. It is our hope that the enhanced police presence, as well as heightened public awareness with paid advertising, will hammer this message home and protect our motorists as they begin their summer travel for the Memorial Day holiday.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there were 10,076 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed during 2017 in U.S. motor vehicle crashes. In that same year, 55 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m.–5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts. Participating law enforcement agencies will not accept any excuses when they stop a violator.
“There’s an old saying, “there’s strength in numbers,” and our mobilization efforts have yielded impressive results in years past, said Chief Chad Henson, of the Trumann Police Department and president of the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police. “I’m confident Arkansas law enforcement officers will do the same in the coming days.”
“The Click It or Ticket campaign is important because it raises awareness about seat belt use during the time when seat belts are least used – at night,” said Susan DeCourcy, NHTSA Region 7 administrator. “An increased number of law enforcement officers throughout Arkansas and the nation will actively be participating in the mobilization to ensure all motor vehicle occupants are buckled up day and night to reduce the risk of injury and death caused in traffic crashes.”
Arkansas state law requires all front seat passengers, not just drivers, to buckle-up. All children, less than fifteen years of age must be properly secured in the vehicle. A child who is less than six years of age and who weighs less than sixty pounds shall be restrained in a child passenger safety seat. If the driver has a restricted license, all passengers in the vehicle must be properly buckled up.
“As we gear up for the mobilization, I want Arkansas drivers to know that they can’t hide from the state’s seat belt laws simply because they don’t travel on the major highways, said Sheriff Ron Brown of Crawford County and president of the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association. “The law is the law, whether there is one car on the road or five hundred in bumper-to-bumper traffic. And more importantly perhaps, a car crash can happen anywhere at any time. That’s why it is critically important to buckle up before you drive, no matter where you are going or the route you take to get there.”
For more information about “Click it or Ticket” and how seat belts save lives, click on nhtsa.gov/ciot or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8133. Information about Arkansas’ ongoing “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign can be found at TZDarkansas.org.