LatinaLista — Starting May 18 and running through May 31 is the familiar "Click It or Ticket" national seatbelt campaign by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
What that means is that if you're caught by police riding or driving a car without your seatbelt on, you're going to get a ticket.
The US Dept. of Transportation released a report today featuring data that shows if every state had a 90 percent seat belt usage rate or better 1,652 lives could be saved and 22,372 serious injuries avoided each year on Americaâ€™s roadways.
The report reveals that currently there are 38 states plus the District of Columbia that average below 90 percent in seat belt usage. National seat belt usage for 2008 data stands at 83 percent.
Of all the age groups, teens are the worst when it comes to buckling up.
Falls Church, VA, USA--US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood speaks at at the kick off of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's national Click it or Ticket safety belt mobilization with law enforcement agencies at the George C. Marshall High School on May 14, 2009.
(Photo by Joceyn Augustino)
Speaking before students at a news conference at a suburban Virginia high school, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood underscored the worrisome reality that seat belt use rates are relatively low among teenagers. Of the 4,540 16-to-20 year old passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2007, 2,502 were unbelted at the time of the crash. Teen belt use rates are especially low at night. In 2007, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of the 16 to-20 year olds killed in nighttime crashes were unbelted at the time.
Among Latinos, it's especially bad.
In a separate report released last month focusing on "Race and Ethnicity: Results Among Occupants Traveling With Children", only 64 percent of young Latinos, ages 16-24, used seat belts versus 82 percent of blacks and 80 percent of whites of the same age group.
Given the high rate of teen parents that can be found in the Latino community, it's particularly disturbing that the usage rate would be the lowest in this age group of Latinos.
That's why the US Dept. of Transportation wants to try again to get the message out to everyone that wearing seat belts save lives. Next week will start a national ad campaign to get the message across.
Yet, the strongest message to get people to understand the importance of wearing a seat belt is to set the example and just do it!