Local police participate in campaign

Continuing through May 31, local police departments — including those in Fenwick Island, Bethany Beach, Ocean View, South Bethany and Selbyville — will join Delaware State Police in participating in the fourth annual Click It or Ticket campaign.

The nationwide, high-visibility enforcement and awareness campaign is conducted each May, with a goal of saving lives and reducing injuries in car crashes by increasing seatbelt use.

The campaign focuses on enforcement of the state’s seatbelt and child-restraint laws with statewide daily checkpoints and roving patrols from 31 state and local police agencies. Law enforcement agencies will put extra officers on the road each day to conduct the checkpoints and patrols looking for unbelted motorists.

The agencies will also be handing out pamphlets designed to inform and educate the public about Delaware’s seatbelt and child restraint laws.

According to Delaware officials, most other states will begin their period of stepped up enforcement on May 23rd, as the campaign also kicks off the start of the summer travel season.

In Delaware, enforcement will continue through May 31st and be followed up with statewide observational seatbelt-use surveys to determine the level of campaign’s success.

“There is zero tolerance for unbelted motorists,” said Tricia Roberts, director of the Delaware Office of Highway Safety (OHS). “Last week the public was warned through paid TV and radio commercials, billboards and news stories that enforcement would begin this week. Now those who continue to disobey the state’s seatbelt law will receive a ticket.”

Safety officials said they were already concerned with an increase in the number of people killed this year who were not wearing seatbelts but were shocked at last weekend’s rash of traffic deaths. Six people were killed in three separate traffic crashes in the state.

One motorcyclist died in a Sussex County crash, while two vehicle crashes occurred in New Castle County. Five people died in those two crashes, and four of them were not wearing seatbelts.

“The importance of conducting the Click It or Ticket campaign, the goal of which is to save lives and reduce injuries by increasing the number of people who buckle up, right now, should be clear for all to see,” Roberts said.

Past Click It or Ticket campaigns have increased seatbelt use in the state to an all-time high of 82 percent in 2004, while the nation also reached an all-time high seatbelt-use rate of 80 percent, OHS officials said.

Despite gains in belt use, safety officials said they only need to look at the fatal crash statistics for this year to see that motorists belt use habits are slipping.

Information about the Click It or Ticket campaign, including schedules of checkpoints, daily results of enforcement activities, a seatbelt fact sheet and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the Internet at www.state.de.us/highway.