Louisiana law enforcement and highway safety agencies are teaming up to increase the enforcement and education of seat-belt use. As part of Louisiana’s “Click It or Ticket” campaign, which began this week and runs through June 6, law enforcement officials will be more strictly enforcing seat-belt laws in an attempt to educate Louisiana motorists on the importance of seat-belt safety. The goal of the program is to raise Louisiana’s seat-belt use to the national average and reduce the number of fatal car wrecks cause by unbelted motorists.
To support the program, the state of Louisiana will add more patrols by local and state police and place more than 2,500 new “Buckle Up, America” signs on state roadways.
According to a WBRZ report, Louisiana’s seat-belt use rate has remained consistent since 2004 at 75 percent. Comparatively, the national average for seat-belt use in 2008 was 83 percent. State officials estimate that every percentage point between 75 percent and 83 percent represents eight lived lost from misuse or non-use of seat-belts.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission estimates that the state’s cost for all traffic injuries and fatalities last year was around $1.23 billion. These costs include medical costs, public services, property damage and employer costs. The commission and authorities believe that this program will help save lives but also save the state money, which they can use for more needed programs.
According to the WBRZ article, 65 percent of the nearly 900 people that died in traffic accidents in 2008 were not wearing their seat-belts properly. The commission believes that seat-belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers in car by 45 percent and back-seat passengers by 60 percent.
The commission provided law enforcement agencies statewide with $1.3 million in state funds to pay officers overtime to conduct seat-belt enforcement in their communities during the campaign.