Expanded Enforcement, New Advertisements Kick Off Statewide Click It Or Ticket Enforcement Effort

Advertising messages with a new twist, for both young men and teens, today launch the statewide Click It or Ticket mobilization. The new ad campaign, combined with an even greater number of areas conducting safety belt enforcement zones, is designed to further reduce traffic deaths by driving up belt use.

The Buckle Up or Pay Up, Click It or Ticket safety belt enforcement mobilization runs May 22 - June 4 and includes the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) is providing federal traffic safety funds for local law enforcement agencies, sheriff offices and Michigan State Police posts in 55 of the state's 83 counties to conduct safety belt enforcement zones during the two-week period. In total, a record number of agencies - 572 - will make safety belt enforcement a priority.

In addition, the Michigan State Police Motor Carrier Division will focus additional enforcement on ensuring all commercial truck drivers are buckled up.

Safety belt enforcement is expanding because the state's goal is to reach 95 percent safety belt use, a 2 percent increase from last year's record high of 93 percent.

"Each percent increase equates to about 10 lives saved and 130 injuries prevented," said Michael L. Prince, OHSP division director. "By reaching 95 percent, we will prevent 20 families from suffering the devastation a traffic fatality can cause."

The new ads, which debut today, talk directly to the two groups least likely to buckle up: young men and teens. Safety belt use among men age 16-29 is 89 percent. While both ads clearly indicate increased enforcement, the ad for young men uses humor to make its point that officers notice unbelted motorists.

The ad directed at teens incorporates a more emotional appeal. This is the first time the state has launched advertising specifically directed at a teenage audience. Both advertisements were created and are being run using federal traffic safety dollars.

During focus groups, young men indicated they are more likely to buckle up to avoid a $65 safety belt fine. The teens responded differently, showing a greater level of concern for saving their lives than fines.

The combination of strict safety belt enforcement and targeted advertising has consistently proven effective in increasing safety belt use, both nationally and at the state level. The state's continued rise in belt use is linked to a decline in fatalities. After adding five counties to the mobilization last year, safety belt use in Michigan increased from 90.5 percent in 2004 to 92.9 percent in 2005. The number of traffic deaths in Michigan fell from 1,159 in 2004 to 1,129 in 2005, a 2.6 percent drop.

Two new counties, Barry and Cass, will be conducting safety belt enforcement zones during the May mobilization in an effort to increase belt use to 95 percent.

"We know the fusion of enforcement and advertising has increased safety belt use and saved lives in the past," said Michael L. Prince, OHSP division director. "Expanding enforcement efforts to new counties and our advertising strategy to teens will help make sure that everyone gets the message that they need to wear safety belts."

Safety belt enforcement zones are conducted on roadways where crash problems are prevalent or belt use is low. Special, portable "safety belt enforcement zone" signs will alert motorists they are entering an enforcement area. One officer will serve as a spotter who will radio unbelted motorist information to nearby marked patrol cars or motorcycles that will pull over offending motorists.

About 800 safety belt enforcement zones are being conducted by 234 agencies during the two-week period.

Michigan law requires all drivers and front seat passengers to be buckled up and children under age 4 to be in an approved child safety seat. It also requires passengers 15 and younger to be buckled up in all seating positions.

The following 55 counties will set up safety belt enforcement zones from May 22-June 4: Allegan, Alpena, Barry, Bay, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Clinton, Delta, Dickinson, Eaton, Emmet, Genesee, Gogebic, Grand Traverse, Hillsdale, Ingham, Ionia, Iron, Isabella, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Leelanau, Lenawee, Livingston, Mackinac, Macomb, Marquette, Mason, Menominee, Midland, Monroe, Montcalm, Muskegon, Oakland, Oceana, Ogemaw, Otsego, Ottawa, Roscommon, Saginaw, Sanilac, Schoolcraft, St. Clair, St. Joseph, Shiawassee, Van Buren, Washtenaw, Wayne and Wexford.