Regardless of what state you live in, you are likely familiar with law enforcement programs designed to encourage seatbelt use. In my state (Wisconsin) it’s called “Click It or Ticket.” Other states have slight variations on the name including “Click It…It’s the Law” and “Click It, Why Risk It?”
The campaigns were instituted to warn motorists that officers would be stepping up patrols and cracking down on drivers who weren’t wearing their seat belts. Now, on the eve of the busy summer travel season, the program gets a new focus. Officers will be turning their attention to motorists traveling on rural highways. The reason: statistics show that nationwide more than 50% (in Wisconsin it’s 80%) of traffic fatalities happen on low to moderately traveled rural highways.
Officers say they will no longer issue reminders or warnings, if they pull you over and find that you are not wearing your seatbelt you will automatically be issued a ticket. Keep in mind there are two types of safety belt laws: primary and secondary. A primary law allows a law enforcement officer to write a ticket if he or she simply observes an unbelted driver or passenger. Under a secondary law, an officer cannot ticket anyone for a safety belt violation unless the motorist is stopped for another infraction. As of August 2005, 22 states, including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Okalahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have primary safety belt laws. If you are stopped and ticketed you can expect to pay maximum fines that range from $10 in Tennessee to $200 in Texas. New Hampshire is the only state that has no adult safety belt law. (Learn more about seat belt safety in my blog: “Preparing For Your Road Trip.”)
With the price of gas already hitting all time highs, the last thing any of us needs is the added expense of a ticket… so buckle up!