Extra nighttime patrols for 'Click It or Ticket' May 24-June 6

Marysville Police will be joining the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and the Washington State Patrol in conducting extra seatbelt patrols during nighttime hours from May 24 through June 6 as part of "Click It or Ticket."

The Click It or Ticket seatbelt patrols moved to the hours of darkness three years ago because the traffic death rate at night is four times higher. Officials have reported that new research shows that nighttime unbuckled drivers are twice as likely as daytime buckled drivers to have criminal records for offenses that involve violence, three times as likely to have felonies and DUIs on their records, and more than two times more likely to have negligent or reckless driving violations on their records.

Researchers observed drivers pulling into gas stations in five Washington cities during a 24-hour period over the course of 18 months. The driving records and criminal records of 5,035 motorists were analyzed. Comparisons were made between those who buckle up and those who don't, and those who ride unbuckled during the day and at night. The research was conducted on contract through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Observational surveys of motorists were conducted during the day and at night to determine seatbelt use rates.

"We were very pleased to find that, despite the focus on nighttime unbuckled drivers, our statewide use rate during the day didn't fall," said Lowell Porter, Washington Traffic Safety Commission director.

Washington has one of the highest seatbelt use rates in the United States since the Click it or Ticket Project began in 2002. The latest daytime observational survey showed seatbelt use at 96.4 percent. The Click it or Ticket Project and the primary enforcement seatbelt law resulted in a 21 percent drop in vehicle occupant deaths, from an average of 518 from 1995 to 2002, to an average of 410 from 2003 to 2009. During those same time periods, serious injuries from traffic crashes dropped 25 percent.

"It is because of these intensive seatbelt efforts, combined with other traffic safety efforts across the state, that we continue to have more than 100 fewer traffic deaths each year in Washington," Porter said.

Medical costs from traffic crashes amount to more than $276 million each year. A research study conducted by Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center in Seattle found that an unbuckled motorist's medical bills amount to $11,000 more per collision than that of a belted motorist, so improved seatbelt use is not only saving lives, but also reducing medical costs from collisions.

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