One of the most important, immediate actions we can take as a nation to protect children and adults in motor vehicles is high-visibility enforcement of seat belt and child passenger safety laws. The American public knows they should buckle up. Despite this awareness, research shows that many are not taking the necessary steps to protect themselves and their children on every ride. We know that enforcing the law is the most effective way to change this behavior. That is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign launch the Click It or Ticket Mobilization - a high visibility enforcement campaign that targets motorists who fail to buckle themselves and their children.
Since these Mobilizations began:
- Child fatalities have dropped by more than 20 percent.
- Child restraint use for infants under one has risen from 85 percent to 99 percent, and restraint use among toddlers, ages 1-4, has jumped even more dramatically from 60 to 94 percent.
- Adult seat belt use rose from 62 percent to 79 percent - the highest use rate ever - with more than 50 million Americans buckling up.
- High-Visibility Enforcement - A Formula for Success
- Special Traffic Enforcement Program (sTEP) Model
- Law enforcement agencies from multiple jurisdictions designate several concentrated periods throughout the year to conduct intensive enforcement of seat belt and child passenger safety laws on a statewide or regional basis.
- Observational surveys measuring seat belt and child restraint use are conducted before and after each wave to gauge the effectiveness of the efforts.
- Seat Belt Checkpoints - officers at a fixed location stop all vehicles to determine seat belt and child safety seat use. During the Memorial Day holiday, officers should combine seat belt checkpoints with sobriety checkpoints when possible.
- Saturation Patrols - an increased number of law enforcement officers patrol a concentrated, geographic area or step up patrols in high-traffic areas.
- Fixed Patrols - an officer patrols a fixed location, such as an intersection or near a high school, shopping center, etc.
- News coverage plays a vital role in high-visibility enforcement. There are simply not enough resources for law enforcement agencies to put a seat belt checkpoint on every street corner, but the media can put a picture of a checkpoint on every television, in every newspaper and via the radio. Experience in several states has shown that the "possibility" of receiving a ticket can be just as effective as an actual ticket in motivating people to buckle up. To support your media outreach, the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign is providing this organizing/media kit to every agency free-of-charge.
- Reporters cover the enforcement activities taking place in their communities - making sure the public clearly understands that officers are stopping vehicles with unbuckled occupants. Ideally stories occur before, during and after the enforcement events to publicize the activities and their results.
- Local news media, law enforcement and other participating organizations often create partnerships to promote the enforcement efforts.
- In May, the Campaign will continue to focus on teens and young adult drivers and broaden its outreach to the military, as traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for our service members.
- There is a broad-based coalition of organizations committed to this initiative. Many of these organizations have local chapters and advocates. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made planners available to these organizations to promote greater seat belt and child safety seat use. If you would like to share this information with your partner organizations or need assistance in building partnerships, use the Law Enforcement Action Kit information [see links on the left-hand side of this web page).
- Local organizations that support your efforts can assist in child seat checkpoints (providing child care, etc.). They should also be invited to attend your news conference to demonstrate community support for your enforcement activities.
- Identify child passenger safety technicians in your community who are qualified and willing to conduct a child/family vehicle check-up clinic. These non-law enforcement partners can participate with officers at safety checkpoints by instructing drivers and/or passengers on how to properly restrain their child passengers. If you would like more information, access the NHTSA website.
- Officers and safety advocates can also distribute educational materials to drivers.