‘Everyone buckle up’: Agencies launch ‘Click it or Ticket’ campaign
DMV Commissioner Gerald Lackey: “We don’t want you to be another statistic.”
GLEN ALLEN, Va. (WWBT) - Outside AAA’s Glenside Car Care Insurance Travel Center in Glen Allen on Monday morning, representatives from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Virginia State Police and local first responders gathered to encourage more people to buckle up as part of the launch of the annual “Click it or Ticket” campaign.
The campaign focuses on enforcement and awareness to increase seat belt use as millions of people prepare to travel on the roads for Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest travel seasons.
AAA forecasts more than one million Virginians will travel to their weekend destinations by car, which AAA spokesperson Morgan Dean said is just shy of the numbers seen before the pandemic in 2019.
“We are still looking at a Memorial Day being one of the fourth busiest since AAA started tracking those back in 2000,” Dean said. “Even though we’re not where we were pre-pandemic, we’re still talking about a lot of traffic out there.”
In a recent state survey, the DMV reported more than 18% of Virginians still don’t wear their seat belt. Through this effort, agencies hope to change that number to save more lives.
“375 people lost their lives on the roadways of Virginia last year because they weren’t wearing a seat belt. Almost 12,000 nationally,” said DMV Commissioner Gerald Lackey. “That’s unacceptable.”
Commissioner Lackey shared his personal story at the podium about how a seat belt saved his life when he was 17.
“Cat ran into the road, pulled off, swerved a little bit, got into the gravel on the side of the road, overcorrected my car, flipped it, slipped down a ravine and hit a tree,” Lackey said. “When first responders, like those standing behind me today, came to me, I was semi-conscious in the vehicle hanging upside down by my seat belt.”
On top of buckling up, the agencies also encourage drivers to stay safe behind the wheel by avoiding distractions, which includes putting their phone down.
“Assigning those phone duties to a copilot, especially when you are traveling,” Dean said. “You got an awesome copilot there. Hand them off the phone and don’t think about it again. Put it in its holder and make sure it’s not distracting you.”
Henrico Police Chief Eric English also reinforced the steps drivers must follow to make it home safely.
“Number one: buckle up,” English said. “Secondly, slow down. Third, do not drive while impaired and fourth, don’t be distracted. Let every family make it home safely to wherever they’re traveling to and from so that nobody has to hear that knock on the door, the message that their loved one is no longer here.”
The DMV also reported approximately one of every two crash fatalities in Virginia last year involved occupants who did not wear a seat belt.
Through this enforcement, leaders want to make sure everyone is safe.
“Please, there’s so many things that you can’t control in a crash, but this is something you can control,” Lackey said. “Put your seat belt on. Buckle up. Encourage your sons and daughters to buckle up as well. We don’t want you to be another statistic.”
The “Click it or Ticket” campaign runs through June 4.
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