By Hayley M. Cook
WILLIAMSON - The West Virginia State Police have released information regarding safety belt statistics for May 19-26.
In West Virginia there were 1,981 seat belt citations and 54 child seat safety citations during this short period of time. These numbers showcase the importance of informing drivers about seat belt safety, considering that 77 percent of vehicle occupants who were thrown from their vehicles in 2011 were killed.
Police across the state are keeping a close eye on drivers to ensure the roads are safe and seat belts are buckled. The West Virginia Highway Safety Office and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have provided highway safety funds to conduct campaigns that go along with the national campaign scheduled for every May.
Three years ago the organizations saw an all-time high use of seat belts, at around 89 percent. Since then, there has been a slow decline to 82 percent. The goal is to improve this percentage and go beyond the all-time high, in hopes of reaching 92 percent by next month.
West Virginia’s seat belt laws are a primary law - this means the police may stop a driver and issue a citation simply for not wearing a seat belt.
Another concern for the police has been drivers talking on their cell phones while driving. Texting while driving is also a life-threatening activity that law enforcement officials will be looking for.
Although the “Click-it or Ticket” campaign ended Saturday, the plan for informing, educating and protecting the highways will continue. Another campaign is scheduled for Sept. 5-21.