With another busy travel season getting underway, law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin are teaming up to send motorists an important safety message: buckle up – every seat, every trip. During the annual Click It or Ticket mobilization that begins Monday (May 20) and runs through Sunday, June 2, law enforcement officers will work for longer hours and in greater numbers to ensure compliance with the state’s 10-year-old mandatory seat belt law.
“Our top priority throughout the year is public safety, and wearing a seat belt is the single, most important way motorists can protect themselves every time they travel,” Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary-designee Craig Thompson said.
The current seat belt use rate of 89 percent is among the highest ever for Wisconsin. Still, about half the car and light truck occupants killed in Wisconsin traffic crashes are unbuckled. This year marks the 10-year anniversary of Wisconsin’s primary enforcement law that allows law enforcement to stop and cite motorists solely for failing to buckle up. Drivers can also be cited for every unbuckled passenger in their vehicle. Failure to fasten a seat belt is among the most common traffic violations in Wisconsin and resulted in 50,875 traffic convictions last year.
Over the next two weeks, WisDOT will use designated federal funds to support enhanced law enforcement efforts, TV, radio and other public education messages, many featuring Green Bay Packers’ all-time leading receiver and Click It or Ticket spokesperson Donald Driver. Electronic message signs along major highways will also display buckle up reminders.
When Wisconsin’s secondary seat belt law was enacted in December of 1987, the state’s seat belt use rate was just 26 percent (under secondary enforcement, police can issue a citation for not wearing a seat belt only when there is another traffic infraction). The seat belt use rate was 74 percent when the state’s current primary seat belt law was enacted in June of 2009.