Remember to Click It or Ticket

Local law enforcement agencies ramping up seat belt campaign

Photo by Alex Meyer Melissa Taylor, coordinator of the West Virginia Northern Regional Highway Safety Office, announces local law enforcement agencies’ participation in the national Click It or Ticket campaign at a press conference Monday at Heritage Port in Wheeling.

WHEELING — Law enforcement agencies across the region are stepping up their enforcement of seat belt laws this week to encourage drivers to buckle up.

The West Virginia Northern Regional Highway Safety Office announced its participation in the national Click It or Ticket campaign, set for May 20 through June 2, at a press conference Monday at Heritage Port.

Through the campaign, the Wheeling Police Department, Ohio County Sheriff’s Department and nearby agencies in Ohio and Pennsylvania, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol, will increase enforcement of seat belt laws and provide fact sheets for drivers at visible checkpoints at state borders.

The program, called “Border to Border,” is run by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration each year and aims to increase participation in seat belt law enforcement.

The main initiative took place 4-8 p.m. Monday and focus on enforcement will continue through the week.

“As the weather gets warmer and as more families hit the roads for vacation and other summer travel, it’s important to point our focus toward highway safety initiatives,” said Melissa Taylor, coordinator of the Northern Regional Highway Safety Office.

In 2017, there were more than 10,000 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in vehicle crashes in the United States, according to the administration. Also that year, 55 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night weren’t wearing seat belts.

Taylor added that 98 people were killed in such accidents in West Virginia in 2017.

“If you know a friend or a family member who doesn’t buckle up when they drive, please ask them to consider changing their habits,” she said. “Help us spread this life-saving message before one more friend or family member is killed. If the enforcement crackdown wakes people up to the dangers of unrestrained driving, we’ll consider our mission to be a success.”

Across West Virginia, officers will be out in force looking for violators during the week, Taylor said, and local agencies will team up with Ohio and Pennsylvania state highway patrols to participate in the initiative.

“It’s a very important event for the safety of the public and everybody else involved,” Ohio County Sheriff Tom Howard said.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Maurice Waddell and Pennsylvania State Trooper said increased patrols will occur in their respective states through Memorial Day weekend.

“We want to prevent any and all tragedies on our roadways,” Wheeling police Sgt. Josh Sanders said. “We’re very grateful to the highway safety program to start initiatives like this. We will have some extra officers out to try to prevent some tragedies and save some lives.”

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