Buckle up or pay up: Click It or Ticket patrols resuming

Remember to buckle up because beginning Monday, May 15, local law enforcement are once again ramping up emphasis patrols and will be handing out $101 fines to anyone not wearing their seat belt.

Funded by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) through federal funds, there will be 300 extra patrol hours in Kitsap County from May 15 until Saturday, June 3, as part of the Click it or Ticket campaign. The law enforcement agencies participating in the patrols are the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bremerton, Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island police departments. Additionally, the Poulsbo Detachment of the Washington State Patrol (WSP), which is responsible for patrolling all of Kitsap County, will be partnering with local law enforcement.

“Troopers have scheduled 45 six-hour patrols during the May 15-June 3 ‘Click it or Ticket’ safety campaign,” stated Trooper Brian George, District 8 spokesman, in a news release. “The majority of citizens in Kitsap County are buckling up; this patrol will target those remaining drivers who are not.”

In May 2005 in Kitsap County, 261 drivers were cited by local police and the Sheriff’s office for not wearing their seat belts.

“It’s done because it works,” said Julie Furlong, spokeswoman for WTSC. “(Nationwide) we’ve watched our numbers go from 36 percent (of people wearing seat belts) in 1986 to 95.2 percent today. This campaign is a model for other states because we’ve been so successful.”

During the past three years of Click it or Ticket campaigns, 30,749 seat belt tickets were written statewide, according to WTSC.

“The evidence is overwhelming that seat belts save lives,” said WSP Chief John R. Batiste. “Our ultimate goal is to save lives, and we hope that our renewed effort to remind drivers in Washington to buckle up will reduce the injuries and fatalities on our roadways.”

After the adoption of the Click it or Ticket project and the primary enforcement seat belt law, the vehicle occupant death number dropped from 517 in 2002 to 419 in 2004, according to the WTSC.

“When we chart our vehicle death rate and our seat belt use rate, it’s easy to see just how important high seat belt use is in reducing deaths and serious injuries from vehicle collisions,” said WTSC director Lowell Porter.

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