Peak Traffic Ticket Season Is Here: Police Pushed to Give More Seat Belt Violation Citations

  • Share
  • Read Later
Ned Frisk / Getty Images

For the two weeks around Memorial Day, there’s more reason than normal to buckle up: Police around the country are stepping up enforcement of seat belt laws and plan on giving out double the usual number of tickets.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is promoting the two-week period from May 20 to June 2 as the National Seat Belt Enforcement Mobilization campaign. The annual “Click It or Ticket” event centers on Memorial Day weekend, and police around the country will be “aggressively” dishing out citations to anyone violating seat belt and child restraint laws.

While local and state police departments are stepping up enforcement of the laws 24/7 for all drivers and passengers, there are more likely to be violations by certain groups, and at certain times of day. According to NHTSA data, men ages 18 to 34 are less likely than others to wear seat belts, and nighttime in general is when more drivers and passengers tend to “forget” or just not bother with the fastening of seat belts.

Among other places, a comprehensive enforcement effort is planned for Washington state, reports the Seattle Times. From May 20 to June 2, extra patrols from 20 local police departments, as well as county and state police, will be deployed to specifically hand out tickets to drivers on cellphones and anyone in a car not wearing a seat belt.

(MORE: Is It Time to Stop Green-Lighting Red-Light Cameras?)

Law authorities in New Jersey stated that they are even planning to hand out tickets for adults in the back seat not wearing seat belts. Only 36% of adults do so, compared to 88% of adults in New Jersey in a car’s front row.

According to data gathered by Businessweek, during the annual push on seat belt enforcement, states are known to double the number of traffic tickets handed out compared to normal periods. The program is a surefire “moneymaker” for states such as Nebraska:

The state, according to Highway Safety Administrator Fred E. Zwonechek, expects to double the number of total traffic citations officers typically issue during the two-week period, from 12,000 to 24,000 (That includes seat belt fines, speeding, and DUI). Zwonechek says the state will generate $750,000 from the campaign, compared to $400,000 normally.

By aggressively enforcing the laws, authorities say they are making roads safer. Naturally, some drivers view such campaigns mainly as quick cash grabs and don’t exactly appreciate the effort to ensure their safety. They’d prefer it if the rules were enforced consistently and reasonably, rather than “aggressively.”

On the normally sleepy island of Ocracoke, in North Carolina‘s Outer Banks, for instance, many locals were angered when a pair of state troopers showed up on a recent weekend and handed out 59 tickets—including 32 citations for seat belt violations and five for DUI. Apparently, some of the drivers took exception to the troopers’ handiwork: The morning after the ticket frenzy, one trooper’s car was splattered with green paint, and a concrete block was thrown through the back window of the other officer’s vehicle.

(MORE: My Beer Can Is Better Than Yours: Aluminum Can-ovations for Better Drinking)

The state troopers’ actions, which included road blocks and random license checks, had “the whole island talking” even before the vandalism, according to the local Ocracoke Current:

It was close to impossible to leave your home, hotel or rental cottage without seeing a blue light. The phrase “police state” and the word “harassment” were both used to describe the presence of troopers doing their jobs in the way they were trained to do them.

“I didn’t feel safer. I felt attacked. I was afraid to leave my house,” said resident Heather Johnson, despite the fact that her car isn’t currently operational and she bikes or walks everywhere.

Meanwhile, newly released data indicates that teenagers are more likely to be killed or injured due to texting behind the wheel than drunk driving. The nation’s four largest wireless providers have just united to launch a multi-million dollar “It Can Wait” campaign warning about the dangers of texting while driving.

USA Today reported, however, that while 39 states and the District of Columbia ban texting behind the wheel, the likelihood of getting ticketed for violating such a law seem low. North Dakota Highway Patrol officers have handed out a grand total of 117 citations for texting while driving since it was outlawed in August 2011.

(MORE: Big 4 Cellphone Carriers Unite on Anti-Texting Ads)

Justin McNaull, director of state relations for AAA, told USA Today that there are fewer-than-expected citations given out for texting because highway officers are still figuring out the best way to detect and enforce the rules. “It takes time for police to develop and disseminate effective enforcement practices,” he said. For now at least, it’s much easier for police officers to hand out tickets for speeding or failure to wear seat belts.

26 comments
monseylaw
monseylaw

"For the two weeks around Memorial Day, there’s more reason than normal to buckle up". Aside from saving your life, you may evade a fine!

ChikuMisra
ChikuMisra

The seat belt law is unconstitutional.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@ChikuMisra Driving is a privilege, not a right.  And there's nothing in the Constitution about the right to break a law.

Grow the hell up.  If you don't want a ticket, put on your damn seat belt so the rest of us don't have to pay for your hospitalization and funeral.

thetruth^
thetruth^

Terrorist police officers need to realize that many times, their bid to write a ticket to someone because of a stupid law, does nothing but separate the people he /she is supposed to protect into radicals that will fight back, against injustice. I would suggest more cops writing warning tickets and soft talk to people of lesser law breaking.

You can sway a voter to do better with a kind word than you can by stealing his food money out of his pocket and or beating the crap out of him and throwing them in jail.

Cops...use you heads....not every stop requires a ticket be written. Use your head and allow the driver  to do better, as OPPOSED to you THREATENING him.    We need good.., good cops on the streets.   .NOT terrorists, self serving cops...

There is one in Houston I ran into a few years ago. his name was CE Green.  That stubbourn donkey has yet to apologize to me and my wife for his terrorism to my family.  Bad terrorists cops are not 100% human, you see. They have drain bramage  and have a difficult time knowing write from wrong.  This type terrorist need to be removed from the force. immediately

Terrorist cops are part of the reason America is dying inside.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@thetruth^ And yet, you'll all about blowing someone away if they "threaten" you.

What, you think that law enforcement plays favorites?  Try educating yourself, assuming your intellectual level is capable of self education at this point, to see what it costs society for people who don't wear seat-belts, who speed and who drive drunk.

HenryMiller
HenryMiller

So much for "the land of the free."

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@HenryMiller Pick a direction and start walking.  If you can't adhere to the driving laws, they can take away your license.  It's not a right to drive, you know.  It's a privilege.  If you abuse the privilege, you get tickets or even get denied the privilege of driving.  If you obey the law regarding the safe operation of a motor vehicle, gosh, you have nothing to worry about.

What, are you three?  Grow the hell up.

PaulMitchell
PaulMitchell

the only thing the pork bellied cops are watching is the supply of jelly doughnuts and other assorted pastries!!

neko.el.gato
neko.el.gato

I wear my seat belt because I want to, not because some pig is threatening me with fines and bullying.

HenryMiller
HenryMiller

@neko.el.gato  

And I don't wear seat belts because, having driven cars for almost half a century without dying, I've concluded they're really not of much use.

If you're capable of it, do the math--religiously wearing a seat belt every time you get into a car from birth onwards will statistically lengthen your life by a whole six weeks.  At my present age, it might give me another week, and another week isn't worth surrendering my freedom to determine how safe I feel it necessary to be.

Uncle_Toad
Uncle_Toad like.author.displayName 1 Like

No, you're just an idiot. Everyone thinks it's their driving that will save them, when it'll be the drunk that kills them earlier.

kpiz
kpiz like.author.displayName 1 Like

Honestly, I don't know how someone forgets to wear their seat belt. Sometimes, my seat belt is on before I even turn on the car. You may THINK that only your life is on the line if you choose not to wear it, but let me shed some light on you. My dad was a volunteer fireman. In Iowa (no idea if this is the case in other states), the fire departments gets called to every emergency call, fire or not. I want to say it was back in 2008, he got called to a single vehicle crash outside of our small hometown. The two involved were teenage girls from a neighboring town. They were driving too fast around a curve on the outside of town that experiences a lot of farm traffic (tractors, combines, etc). Their car hit a patch of gravel/sand and ran off the road, rolled a couple times and settled in a corn field. The girl in the passenger seat was not wearing her seat belt. When the car rolled, she was ejected through the driver's side window, hitting the other girl in the head with her body on the way out. She died instantly. The driver suffered severe brain trauma, was in a coma, and later taken off of life support and died. My dad said that was one of the hardest calls he ever had to go to because it reminded him of me and my friends who were around the same age at the time. It deeply traumatized him. As I said before, you may THINK it's only your life in danger when you choose not to wear your seat belt, but your body becomes a deadly weapon in even simple car accidents. Why don't you think of others before you choose not to wear your seat belt

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@kpiz Back in my Navy days, I was an ambulance crew chief.  We responded to accidents, injuries and calls throughout the base and local area (in support of local services).  I can't count how many people we scraped off the street because they didn't wear their seat belts.

I remember one night a drunk sailor rammed a Buick from behind while doing about 100 on the freeway.  The two elderly women in the Buick had back and neck injuries, but both recovered.  The sailor was ejected through the windshield.  The blood smear was 400 feet long because he took most of the windshield with him and basically sandpapered off his right foot as he rode the windshield down the road.  He was lucky it wasn't his face.

He had a ruptured spleen, fractured liver and lost a foot.  His left lung was punctured by six fractured ribs.  Both his legs were broken and he had a fractured pelvis.  He also ended up with a subdermal hematoma and a fractured jaw.

If not for the trauma center five minutes from where he crashed, he'd be planted today.  I decided to see how he did (this was long before HIPPA) and kept tabs on him.  As it was, I was discharged 18 months later and he was still in rehab.  He had severe brain injuries and the mental capacity of a three year old.  He will be a drain on medical resources for the rest of his life.

He wasn't wearing a seat belt.

More personally, when I was four, I was riding in the back of a Rambler station wagon.  No seat belts in the very back (not the back seat, but the back cargo area).  We got in an accident.  I ended up in the front seat.  I managed to NOT go through the windshield.  with a basal and frontal skull fractures that required surgery to fix.  Fortunately, my folks had excellent insurance, as did the people who cause the accident that almost killed me, my mother and siblings.  I was in the hospital for six months.

We became believers in seat belts.

And I can't believe the morons who bemoan seat belt enforcement efforts.  While I don't wish them to experience the consequences of their stupidity, I know Darwin will be appeased sooner or later by each and every one of them.  And it'll cost us all in the end.

yffrules
yffrules

I get a ticket if I dont wear seat belt in Texas, but its okay if I dont wear a helmet on my motorcycle....where is the logic

craig.skilton
craig.skilton like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

If I get a ticket for a seat belt I contest. They have nulled the ticket every time because they don't want to waste teh court time, they are hoping you just pay. Everyone should contest every seat belt ticket and clog the courts as a form of civil disobedience. They want to make money, if the tickets cost them more in court time it won't be worth it.

icstupid
icstupid

@craig.skilton 

How about just wear the darn belt?  Then not only are you better protected, your not wasting the cop's time (and tax payer money) or yours?

DavidYard
DavidYard like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Can someone please explain to me how the seat belt law is legal? I am an adult. If I do not wear my seat belt, the only person it hurts is me. I can understand the law being set for kids, same as car seat laws. But for adults, It is none of the police dept business if I wear a seat belt or not.

Click it or ticket, can stick it.

SomeDayisEveryDAy
SomeDayisEveryDAy

@DavidYard What Jodun said.  Also don't forget that driving is a privilege, not a right.  People these days think they own the roads.

Jodun
Jodun like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@DavidYard They base it upon the additional health care costs if you are in an accident and survive with heavy injuries vs. in an accident and lightly injured or not injured at all. Since others would have to help cover at least some of the bill (other people on the same insurance covering your care from their premiums, or the public paying if you went to the ER as uninsured and were unable to pay later) the legislatures pushed these laws.

I often think it's mostly intended to protect insurance company profits and leave more public money available to fund pork-barrel programs, but I don't trust anything a politician has to say until they've been dead at least a couple centuries.

julnor99
julnor99 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 5 Like

Total crap.  In a free society adults should not be prosecuted for choosing not to wear a seat belt.  Don't get me wrong, you should wear your seatbelt, you just shouldn't be punished for not doing so.

SomeDayisEveryDAy
SomeDayisEveryDAy like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

@julnor99 You're so right, and the hospital shouldn't treat you once you're in an accident.  Why should they?  It's a free society after all.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@SomeDayisEveryDAy @julnor99 I'd be very pleased to let these Darwin Award nominees die.  Granted, that removes their life-time productivity from society, but frankly, Darwin demands that the fit survive and anyone moronic enough to think that seat belts are a personal choice and don't do any good deserve to meet Darwin prematurely so he can explain why they're dead and their genes aren't in the pool anymore.