This Memorial Day Weekend marks summer’s official beginning. And I am glad of that.
I'm pretty sure I'm not alone, too, because this weekend, 28 million Americans will hit the road for a vacation. Tens of millions more will get into their cars for a barbecue or other festive gathering across town.
But 16% of those on the road this weekend won’t buckle up on the way. They will choose not to wear their seat belts. And the consequences of that choice can be grim--equal parts deadly and heartbreaking. And 100% preventable.
Today, we launched our annual Memorial Day weekend Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign. Between May 24th and June 6th, 10,000 police departments across the country will be out in force, writing tickets if you’re not wearing your seat belt.
The point is not to write tickets; the point is to get people to buckle up.
The good news is that 84% of Americans are doing just that every time they climb into a car. That's up from only 60% just a few years ago.
But, some--like Ryan Didone--don't always click it. And today, Ryan's father, Capt. Thomas Didone of the Montgomery County, MD, police, is left to tell the tragic story of losing his son in an October 2008 car crash:
"It only takes a second, a split second, and life is changed. I want all the parents to hug their kids. Today, they came home safe, but you can't assume that tomorrow they will, unless you continue to talk to them and get them to buckle up."
You know, every day 38 people in this country die because they were involved in a car crash and were not wearing their seat belts. 38 lives cut short. 38 families left grieving. 38 sets of friends mourning an unnecessary loss.
For 2008, the year Ryan was killed, those 38 per day totaled 14,000 for the year. That's the equivalent of 70 Boeing 747s fully loaded, yet it doesn't catch the nation's attention.
I don't get it; I really don't. It costs absolutely nothing to click that seat belt around you. Yet it can cost you everything if you don't.
As National Highway Traffic safety Administrator David Strickland said today, "Regular seat belt use is the single best way to protect yourself and your family in motor vehicle crashes."
So, please save yourself the hassle, save yourself the fine; and, above all, save yourself and those who love you the many years you have ahead of you.
When you get in the car, just click it. Please, buckle up that seat belt. Every trip; every time.