LAURINBURG — Local law enforcement officials partnered with the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program this week for the annual Memorial Day Click It or Ticket campaign.
Efforts in Scotland County began Monday with a Border-to-Border campaign that covers a portion of US 401 near the Hoke/Scotland County line.
Seven officers from three agencies – two from Scotland County Sheriff’s Office, two from Hoke County Sheriff’s Office, and three from Laurinburg Police Department− are assisting in the campaign.
“The purpose is to reduce the amount of collisions and reduce injuries related to traffic collisions,” said Deputy Darryl Ford. “Over the years, we’ve had a number of collisions where people were not wearing their seat belts and received numerous injuries and several fatalities that could have been prevented.”
Wearing a seat belt increases the chances of surviving a crash by 45 percent in a passenger vehicle and up to 60 percent in a pickup truck.
The seat belt checkpoint resulted in a number of violations.
A total of 41 traffic violations were found: two for child restraints; 13 for no operator’s license; six driving while license revoked; 10 registration violations, one for no insurance, and nine unspecified.
There were a total of 10 criminal violations as a result of the checkpoint: six marijuana charges, one felony firearm charge, one recovered stolen gun, one felon carrying a concealed weapon, one order for arrest for failure to appear.
Ford, a state trooper and deputy for more than 20 years, has seen firsthand how seat belts save lives.
“The compartment was fine, but the door came open, and they were thrown from the vehicle because they were not wearing their seat belt and it was fatal,” Ford said. “I have seen children ejected from the back seat into the front floorboard or onto the driver because they were not properly restrained.”
Even those who survive crashes find themselves with more serious injuries than they would have received if they were wearing a seat belt.
Many people dislike the idea of wearing a seat belt while sitting in the back seat. But not wearing a restraint can result in injuries or death for not only the backseat passenger but others in the vehicle who are restrained as well, according to Ford.
It is possible to be thrown into the backside of the seat in front of you and survive the crash but kill the driver or front seat passenger who was belted in.
“Their head could come over the seat hit [the driver’s] head, knock you out. They could come over the seat and cause you to lose control of the vehicle. They [the back seat passenger] are pushing you toward something you are supposed to be restrained from,” Ford said.
Deaths of people not wearing seat belts have decreased slightly by 4.5 percent from this time last year, but unrestrained serious injuries have increased by 32 percent across North Carolina between 2016 and 2017, according to the Department of Transportation.
Ford suggests anyone in doubt about the seriousness of the issue go to YouTube and watch crash demonstrations with unrestrained passengers to see the extent of the damage and injuries unrestrained passengers may be subjected to in a wreck.
The state and county campaigns will continue through June 3 during the busiest holiday and travel weekends. Law enforcement will be citing motorists who are not properly belted and look for other violations.
State law mandates that all passengers in a vehicle wear proper restrains. Violations are punishable by fines of up to $179.
Children younger than eight years must be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they’re taller than 4 feet 9 inches. If they are not properly restrained, the driver could face fines up to $250 plus the cost of court.
This is the 25th Anniversary of the Click It or Ticket campaign. When the effort launched in May 1993, only 64 percent of North Carolinians used a seat belt. Today, nearly 92 percent buckle up, state officials said.
The campaign’s theme remains, “Seat belts save lives. Remember, Click It or Ticket. Every Seat. Every Time. It’s the law.”
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169