The simple act of wearing a seat belt and using a child restraint can protect you and your family from serious injury or even death. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, lap and shoulder belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 44 percent among back-seat outboard (seat positions next to the door) occupants in passenger vehicles and 73 percent among back-seat outboard occupants of vans and SUVs. In addition, exposure to unbelted occupants increases the risk of injury or death to other occupants in the vehicle by 40 percent.
That is why the state Department of Transportation (DOT) and the four county police departments are reminding everyone to buckle up every day, day and night, year round. During the national Click It or Ticket mobilization, May 20-June 2, and throughout the year, police statewide will be continuing strict enforcement of the state seat belt and child passenger restraint laws.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed Senate Bill 4 into law. The new law, known as a universal seat belt law, takes effect immediatelyand requires all front seat and back seat occupants to buckle up. Adults and children must use their seat belts and child restraints at all times.
The child passenger restraint law requires children under 4 years of age to ride in a child safety seat, and children between the ages of 4 and 8 years to ride in either a child safety seat or a booster seat.
The cost of a citation for not wearing your seat belt is $92. Cost of a ticket for not using a child safety seat or booster seat is $100-$500 and attendance of a four-hour class.
“Hawaii’s seat belt usage rate is one of the highest in the nation, but the number of unrestrained occupants killed in crashes is unacceptable,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “In 2011 alone, out of 40 fatalities, 14 were not wearing their seat belts. Those lives could’ve been saved had they just chosen to buckle up.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during 2011, 31 percent of crash victims who were unbelted were totally ejected from the vehicles, compared to only 1 percent of those who were buckled up. Motorists are 75 percent less likely to be killed in a rollover crash if they are buckled up. The NHTSA data also shows that seat belts saved an estimated 11,949 lives nationwide in 2011.
“On behalf of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, I’d like to congratulate Hawaii on passing a universal seat belt law,” said Dr. David Manning, NHTSA Regional Administrator. “Seat belts save lives. Even in low velocity crashes, you are safer wearing your seat belt. So remember to buckle up every trip, every time.”
To support the high visibility Click It or Ticket enforcement, the state DOT launched the “Day & Night, Year Round” Click It or Ticket media and education campaign on May 17. A public service announcement is currently airing on television, radio and in Consolidated Theatres and Regal Cinemas statewide.
The “Day & Night, Year Round” campaign combines the efforts of the state Departments of Transportation, Health and Education; the four county police departments; NHTSA; the Federal Highway Administration; the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; and Safe Community coalitions. Funding for the campaign and the PSA is provided by NHTSA.
For more information on the national Click It or Ticket mobilization, visit www.nhtsa.gov.