HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT) – The Vincennes Police Department and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office are joining agencies from across the state to urge drivers to buckle up during the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) national ‘Click it or Ticket’ high-visibility enforcement effort.

The national seat belt campaign runs from May 15 to June 4.

“We want seat belt use to be an automatic habit for drivers and passengers alike,” said Lt. Kern. “It’s not just a safe thing to do – it’s the law. During the ‘Click it or Ticket’ campaign, we’ll be working with our fellow law enforcement officers across local and state lines to endure the message gets out to drivers and passengers. Buckling up is the simplest thing you can do to limit injury or save your life during a crash. We see the results of not wearing a seat belt all the time. We see the loss of life. So often, it could have been prevented.”

Data from the Indiana Criminal Justice (ICJI) shows unbuckled motorists make up almost 40% of all passenger vehicle deaths in the state. Since the ‘Click it or Ticket’ initiative began more than 20 years ago, seat belt use has gone up over 30% in Indiana to 93%, higher than the national average of 91.6%.

In 2022, 236 unbuckled vehicle occupants lost their lives on Indiana roads – the third highest in the past decade. Young drivers, especially males, were the most likely to speed and the least likely to be buckled during a crash.

“These numbers are not just statistics, they represent real people and families that have been forever changed by the tragedy of a traffic crash,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “Many people we lost would still be alive today had they made the decision to buckle up. Seat belts make a difference. They save lives.”

In 2021, 57% of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m.-5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts. These numbers are the cause of one focus of the campaign: nighttime enforcement.

During the campaign, participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night. Drivers can be cited for lack of seat belt use and for each unbuckled passenger under the age of 16.

“No matter the type of vehicle you’re driving in or the type of road you’re driving on, the best way to stay safe in case of a crash is to wear your seat belt,” Kern said. “Unfortunately, many families are suffering because their loved ones refused to follow this simple step.”

Vehicle collisions continue to be a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13.

“The loss of a child due to inadequate vehicle safety measures is a tragedy, however, it is also preventable,” said Jim Bryan, ICJI Traffic Safety Director. “We owe it to our children to prioritize their safety and take every necessary precaution when it comes to their well-being.

Indiana law requires the driver and passengers to buckle up.