From May 23 through this past weekend, police and traffic safety officers across the U.S. joined together for our annual Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign. This program has been the cornerstone of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's program to get Americans to buckle up. And with 85 percent of Americans fastening their seat belts when they get into a vehicle, we think it's working.
Until May 25th, Kevin Kelly of Wetumpka, Alabama, was one of the 15 percent who didn't buckle up. That morning, a Click it or Ticket public service announcement from the Alabama Department of Public Safety changed his mind--and saved his life.
Later that day, the red pickup truck Kevin was driving was involved in a head-on collision with another pickup. Alabama State Trooper Joe Champion arrived on the scene, saw the wreckage of the violent crash and prepared for the worst.
Amazingly, he found Kevin essentially uninjured. How? His seat belt prevented serious harm.
"I don't know why I listened to it," he says, "but I did, and I'm pretty sure it saved my life."
This is precisely why we do what we do here at DOT. This is why NHTSA works so hard persuading Americans to buckle up. This is why the Alabama Department of Public Safety and state DOTs across the country run ads promoting seat belt use. This is why thousands of state troopers in Alabama and in your state make that extra effort during the annual Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilization.
As Sgt. Steve Jarrett of the Alabama Department of Public Safety said, "We're all happy to have an example we can point to and say, for certain, that this campaign is making a difference."
I said earlier that the 85 percent of Americans wearing their seat belts demonstrates that our efforts are working. But, with 15 percent still riding unbuckled, we know we can do better. And if it means changing people's minds one by one, that's what we'll do.
Because Kevin Kelly of Wetumpka, Alabama, has a simple message for all of us: Seat belts save lives.