ADA — Pontotoc County Sheriff’s office received a $3,620 check Monday to launch its Click It or Ticket program. This grant money goes to pay deputies working overtime in support of the mobilization.

"Safety belts clearly save lives, but unfortunately too many people still need a tough reminder, so we are going to be out in force buckling down on those who are not buckled up," said Pontotoc County Sheriff Pete Peterson. "Unless you want to risk a ticket, or worse — your life, you need to remember to "Click It or Ticket" day and night."

Nearly one in five Americans (or 18 percent nationally) still fail to regularly wear safety belts when driving or riding in a motor vehicle, according to a new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In Oklahoma, the percentage of drivers and passengers observed not wearing their safety belts is 16.9 percent. But failure to regularly wear a safety belt can be deadly. According to NHTSA, 31,693 passenger vehicle occupants died in traffic crashes during 2004 - and 55 percent of those killed were not wearing their safety belts at the time of the crash.

That’s why Peterson said his department is joining with more than 12,000 other state and local law enforcement and highway safety officials during late May for an aggressive national "Click It or Ticket" mobilization to crack down on Oklahoma’s safety belt law violators and to reduce highway fatalities.

"Too many people still take the attitude that it will never happen to them. But fatal crashes can and do happen every day. So we will be out in force showing zero tolerance for anyone not buckled up," Peterson said. "We’d much rather write a thousand tickets than have to knock on one family’s door with the news that their loved one didn’t survive a crash because they weren’t wearing their safety belt."



Peterson said regular safety belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes. When worn correctly, safety belts have proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers car occupants by 45 percent - and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and mini-vans.

Safety belt checkpoints and other stepped-up law enforcement activities will be conducted during the national "Click It or Ticket" enforcement mobilization, which runs May 22-June 4. The mobilization is being supported by a projected $12 million dollars or more in paid national advertisements encouraging all Americans, but especially the targeted non-belt users, to always buckle up.

"Too many people still take the attitude that it will never happen to them. But fatal crashes can and do happen every day. So we will be out in force showing zero tolerance for anyone not buckled up," Peterson said. "We’d much rather write a thousand tickets than have to knock on one family’s door with the news that their loved one didn’t survive a crash because they weren’t wearing their safety belt."

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