National ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign to begin in city of Sarasota May 22 and run through June 4

Citations to be issued day and night, though focus will be on nighttime drivers

 The Sarasota Police Department is urging drivers to buckle up during the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) national Click It or Ticket, high-visibility enforcement effort, the department announced this week.

The campaign coincides with the Memorial Day holiday period — May 22 through June 4 this year, a news release notes.

“We want seat belt use to be an automatic habit for drivers and passengers alike,” said Officer Tim Bales of the Sarasota Police Department Traffic Unit, in the release. “It’s not just a safe thing to do, it’s the law.,” he added. “During the Click It or Ticket campaign, we’ll work with our fellow law enforcement officers across the City of Sarasota to ensure the message gets out to drivers and passengers,” Bales added in the release.

“Buckling up is the simplest thing you can do to limit injury or save your life during a crash,” Bales continued. “We see the results of not wearing a seat belt all the time, and we see the loss of life. So often, it could have been prevented.”

In 2021, according to the NHTSA, 11,813 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants were killed in crashes in the United States, the release says. That same year, 57% of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m.) were not wearing seat belts, the release points out. “That’s why the Click It or Ticket campaign focuses on nighttime enforcement,” the release explains.

Nonetheless, the release continues, “Participating law enforcement agencies will take a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night. In the City of Sarasota, the maximum penalty for a seat belt violation is $116.”

“No matter the type of vehicle you’re driving in or the type of road you’re driving on, the safest way to stay safe in case of a vehicle crash is to wear your seat belt,” said Officer Bales in the release. “Unfortunately, many families suffer because their loved ones refuse to follow this simple step,” he added.

“NHTSA data shows that seat belt use is higher among women than men,” the release notes. Nearly twice as many men were killed in crashes, compared to women, in 2021, the release adds. “Of the men killed in crashes during that same year, more than half (54%) were unrestrained. For women killed in crashes, 42% were not buckled up,” the release points out.

“If the enforcement effort alerts people to the dangers of unrestrained driving, we’ll consider our mission a success,” Bales said in the release. “If you know a friend or a family member who does not buckle up when they drive, please ask them to consider changing their habits,” he continued. “Help us spread this lifesaving message before one more friend or family member is killed for not buckling up. Seat belts save lives, and everyone, front seat and back, child and adult, needs to remember to buckle up.”