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Forget the excuses--just buckle up.

Now is the time to start thinking about the annual, national "Click It or Ticket" campaign, which, in 2009, runs May 18 to 31. The goal, of course, is to increase national seat-belt use from the 83 percent achieved in 2008.

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That number is a far cry from the lofty goals established in April 1997, under the Clinton Administration. The aim then was to increase national seat-belt use to 85 percent by the year 2000, and 90 percent by 2005 (from 68 percent in 1996).

While those goals were not met, national seat-belt use has risen steadily since the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) started collecting data in 1994. At the same time, there has been a steady decline in passenger-vehicle-occupant fatalities per mile traveled [see accompanying chart].

Despite these gains, research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that nighttime belt use continues to be much lower than daytime use, particularly among young drivers.

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"Seat-belt use among young drivers and occupants is not what it should be, especially at night, when the risk of dying in a crash triples," said former NHTSA Administrator, Nicole Nason. "Clearly, we need to do more to make people of all ages understand that--whether traveling by car, SUV or truck--a seat belt is the best way to stay alive, day or night."

The consequences of not buckling up are even more tragic among young passenger-vehicle occupants. Of the 2,962 nighttime passengers, 16 to 20 years old, who died in 2006, 68 percent were unrestrained. During the daytime, 57 percent of the 16-to-20-year-old occupants killed were unrestrained.

"Wearing your seat belt costs you nothing," said Nason. "But the cost for not wearing one certainly will. So don't risk it with a ticket, or worse--your life."

Commit now to supporting this year's "Click It or Ticket" campaign. The law-enforcement officers who will be on the streets need our help to make the campaign successful.
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Title Annotation:seat belt use
Publication:Sea&Shore
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2009
Words:326
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