5/26/2005National 'Click it or Ticket' Motorist Harassment Underway
Millions to be stopped on busy holiday weekend during high-profile 'zero tolerance' seat belt campaign.
Over the busy Memorial Day weekend, motorists who have done nothing wrong will be stopped by police officers as part of a national program to issue tickets to anyone not wearing a seat belt. All fifty states participate in the federally-funded "Click it or Ticket" program orchestrated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The federal government spends $10 million on paid-advertising to support states enforcing rules against motorists who forget or choose not to wear a seat belt. Currently, 21 states have primary seat belt laws which allow police to pull over anyone not belted up. In the remaining states, police may only pull over a motorist for another infraction before issuing a seat belt citation. All states have announced that they will step up regular patrols.
Checkpoints will be the most prominent enforcement option for many states this weekend. Last year there were 3,000 roadblocks throughout South Carolina set up to issue 21,321 seat belt tickets. Since the beginning of its "Click it or Ticket" program in 1993, North Carolina has collected on more than 283,000 belt and child restraint violations.
Data from "Checkpoint Strikeforce", a similar roadblock program in the Mid-Atlantic states, show that a lot of people are detained to issue those tickets. Nearly half a million drivers were stopped last year to issue 2,730 seat belt tickets.
Yesterday, Florida officials announced at a press that state and local law enforcement "will show zero tolerance for motorists who fail to use their safety belts." Miami Police Chief John F. Timoney added, "This campaign is not about writing tickets, it's about saving lives."