Police and Local Football Rivals Urge Motorists to Buckle Up
With Thanksgiving Day and busy holiday travel around the corner, state and local police and joined forces today with a motor vehicle crash survivor and local high school football rivals to raise awareness about the dangers faced by drivers and passengers who do not wear seat belts. The event was part of the Commonwealth's Fall 2008 Click It or Ticket Mobilization, a statewide effort funded by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) focused on extra high visibility traffic enforcement and a public awareness campaign that began Nov. 10 and will continue through Nov. 30.
At today's event, the football players from BC High and Catholic Memorial came together - just days before they butt heads on the field on Thanksgiving - to present a unified warning to their peers about the need to wear seatbelts. Students are an especially risky population in the Commonwealth because, according to a 2008 EOPSS survey seat belt usage for teens is even lower than the state average of 67%, and down 10 percent from 2007.
Statistics from the EOPSS show that more than 30 percent of Massachusetts drivers and front seat passengers are not buckling up, putting Massachusetts far below the 2008 national seat belt use rate of 83 percent. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, proper seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury for front seat occupants in a motor vehicle crash by up to 45 percent and of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent.
"Seat belts dramatically improve your chances for survival in a crash, yet about one in every three Massachusetts drivers still aren't buckling up," said Colonel Mark F. Delaney, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. "State and local police are dedicated to improving seat belt use in the Commonwealth and enforcing our existing seat belt laws."
For the Click It or Ticket mobilization, EOPSS has provided $1.3 million in federal highway safety funds for additional high visibility traffic enforcement and a public awareness campaign. During this initiative, the Massachusetts State Police and many local police departments will strive to encourage voluntary seat belt compliance across the Commonwealth. For more information, go to www.mass.gov/highwaysafety.