CCPD, LCSO join Click It or Ticket campaign
Local law enforcement agencies hope to save lives and reduce traffic crash injuries by participating in a safety education and enforcement effort.
The Cape Coral Police Department and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office have joined other agencies across the state of Florida in another Click It or Ticket campaign. Click It or Ticket is a cooperative effort between law enforcement agencies, the Florida Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Our goal always is to focus on traffic safety, and whenever these events come up, we gladly join with other law enforcement to get the message out,” LCSO spokesman Larry King said, adding that during the campaigns, people pay attention and do not “get into bad habits like not buckling up.”
The campaign began Monday and ends March 15.
“About 35 percent of all traffic fatalities in Florida occur because drivers and passengers fail to buckle up as required by state law,” Sgt. Keith Perrin of the CCPD’s Special Operations Bureau said. “That is unfortunate because regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce motor vehicle crash fatalities.”
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 2,983 people killed in motor vehicle related crashes in 2008. Out of these deaths, 1,795 were drivers or passengers in vehicles equipped with seat belts. Sixty percent, or 1,085 people, were not wearing a safety belt.
“We encourage all drivers and passengers to get into the habit of buckling their seat belt when they are in a vehicle. We prefer to see drivers and passengers properly buckled rather than issue a traffic citation,” he said.
Seat belt citations in Lee County carry a $109 fine. No points are assessed on a person’s driving record because it is a non-moving violation.
Master Cpl. Andrew Satterlee is in charge of the Click It or Ticket campaign for the CCPD. He said the department has a zero-tolerance policy regarding seat belt use and the agency’s participation in Click It or Ticket is two-fold: to enforce seat belt use and to increase awareness of seat belt laws.
“But our overall goal is to reduce injuries when it comes to traffic crashes,” Satterlee said, adding that the focus is not just on adults. “We have to look out for the children.”
King agreed, adding that children should be secured in an age-appropriate child carrier or booster seat while riding in a vehicle.
“The seat belt aspect is important, especially with children in cars,” he said, “making sure that booster seats are being properly utilized.”
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 68 percent of children up to age 17 who were killed in crashes were not using safety equipment.
During the campaign, the CCPD will utilize “regular, road patrol officers” by having them watch for drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts. There will also be enforcement at three different intersections at various hours for every day that the campaign is running.
Satterlee said the enforcements will use plain clothes officers who will call out drivers, saturation patrols with multiple officers and a “step-out style,” in which an officer walks out into the road and directs drivers to pull over.
He added that the intersections were picked based on traffic volume, traffic crash history and complaints from residents or drivers in the area.
“It’s not just throwing a dart at the board,” he said.
King reported that the first thing LCSO deputies will be looking for throughout the campaign is seat belt violations. He said citations will be issued, but the agency’s aim is to educate the public and raise awareness.
According to prepared statements from the CCPD and LCSO, research has shown lap and shoulder belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat car occupants by 45 percent when used properly and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent.
For light truck occupants, safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent and moderate to critical injury by 65 percent. Safety belts are also 80 percent effective in reducing fatalities during rollover crashes, including in sport utility vehicles, thus reducing the risk of a fatal injury.
Satterlee, who has been working traffic homicides for the CCPD for the past five years, said he has encountered so many crash injuries and fatalities that could have been prevented by someone wearing a seat belt. Satterlee pointed out the number of people who knew someone who died in a crash and was not wearing a seat belt.
“A seat belt could change all those stories,” he said.
“There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t see someone involved in a crash and they’re not restrained (with a seat belt),” he said. “We see the results of people not wearing their seat belts every day.”
“People just don’t realize that when you’re driving or riding in a vehicle, what happens when you’re involved in a crash. We want to minimize the fatalities,” King said. “One life lost is too many.”
According to Satterlee, the Cape department normally participates in the Click It or Ticket campaign every year. The agency is just “going a little bit deeper” this year in terms of enforcement and raising awareness.
“It’s a more comprehensive Click It or Ticket campaign than we’ve ever had,” he said. “It’s about the person, it’s about the life, and saving that life.”
The combination of enforcement and awareness has made Click It or Ticket the most successful safety belt campaign ever, according to the LCSO. Safety belt use in Florida has jumped 26 percent since the state first joined Click It or Ticket in 2001.
“While compliance with seat belt use has almost caught up to the national average of 82 percent, there is still room to improve and lives to save,” Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott said. “Everyone needs to buckle up.”