MONROE, LA (WVUE) - State officials kick off a new effort to remind drivers and passengers to buckle up.
Louisiana's "Click it or Ticket" campaign applies to everyone inside of vehicles, including those riding in back seats. A 2014 state survey found a little more than half of rear-seat passengers secure their seat belts. Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director John LeBlanc said some non-compliance may be because people simply don't know it's the law.
"People think they're protected in the back seat and don't need a seat belt, but they're wrong," LeBlanc said. He cited NHTSA figures showing 61 percent of those killed in rear seats in the U.S. in 2012 were unrestrained.
"Our 2014 study of seat belt use showed 84.1 percent of Louisiana motorists buckling up - the highest rate yet. This continued improvement correlates with Louisiana's drop in highway fatalities - almost 30 percent fewer lives lost between 2007 and 2013. This is great news, but there's another point we have to keep front and center: More than half of the drivers killed in Louisiana in 2013 were not wearing safety belts. That's where 'Click it or Ticket' can make a difference," LeBlanc said.
According to the state, the national average for seat belt usage is 87%. Louisiana's average is 84%.
"Seat belts save lives. It's that simple. We've worked enough crashes and seen enough tragedies to know this to be true," said Capt. Tommy Lewis, Commander, Louisiana State Police, Troop F. "Louisiana has a primary seat belt law, which means officers can stop and ticket people they observe violating the law. We don't want to write tickets, but we will if it means saving lives."
Law enforcement agencies across the state will work overtime patrols May 18-31 to educate and enforce seat belt usage.