Drivers everywhere face many roadway dangers each time they climb into their cars. And no matter how sophisticated the latest models may be, there are many highway hazards over which we simply have no control. However, there is one precaution each and every one of us can take to help protect ourselves and our passengers from the unexpected… It’s a simple as buckling-up.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this may be even more important for Georgians who live in rural areas because driving or riding on rural roadways presents a much greater risk of being injured or killed in traffic crashes than commuting in urban or suburban areas.
Why? Part of the danger to rural drivers comes from delayed recovery and emergency response along isolated roadways. But much of the danger is also due to excessive speed, increased alcohol use, vehicle rollovers and higher occupant ejection rates resulting from unacceptably low safety belt use in rural areas.
In fact, seatbelt use in the nation’s rural areas consistently trails the national average. In 2008, only 79-percent of rural drivers and their passengers nationally were observed wearing their seat belts compared to 84-percent of urban motorists. And of the 1,088 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities that occurred in Georgia in 2008, a lopsided statistic emerged: Half of Georgia’s crash deaths occurred in rural areas.
That’s why beginning on May 17, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) will send the Click It or Ticket message loud and clear as it joins forces with state and local traffic enforcement officers across Georgia to conduct a special, high-visibility Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign. This enforcement blitz will buckle-down on all motorists not buckling-up – But especially those in rural areas. Because Georgia is Buckle-Up Country!
This special enforcement emphasis on rural roadways will supplement Georgia’s annual participation in the national Click It or Ticket seatbelt enforcement mobilization planned for May 24 through June 6.
Little use of seatbelts in pickup trucks, especially, is a big problem. In fatalities of passenger vehicle occupants within the rural areas of Georgia, nearly half involved light trucks. Among those, 75-percent were unrestrained.
Seatbelts clearly save lives, but unfortunately too many drivers in Georgia and particularly those in our rural counties, still need a tough reminder. So this May, we’re committed to doing everything we can to convince drivers that regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes.
When worn correctly, seatbelts have proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat light truck occupants by 60-percent and as much as 80-percent in the event of a rollover crash. Simply buckling your seatbelt can reduce medical and legal expenses, lost wages, lost productivity, high insurance rates and other burdensome costs that all citizens are forced to share because of rollovers and vehicle crashes.
Just remember. No more warnings. No more excuses. No matter who you are or where you drive, especially in Georgia’s rural areas, if you don’t want to click it, expect a ticket. Georgia is Buckle- Up Country!
For more information, please visit www.gahighwaysafety.org or www.region4ruralbeltproject.org .
Director, Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety