The Salt River Police Department (SRPD) has launched a new billboard for the “Click It or Ticket” nationwide traffic-safety campaign, which will run from May 23 through June 5. The billboard incorporates a Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community personalized buckle-up message, “Arrive Alive, Buckle Up,” with an O’odham/Piipaash basket design in the background. The billboard is located at Alma School and McDowell roads, one of the major intersections on the Community known for speeding and seat belt violations.
“We put the billboard up to keep drivers aware of [the importance of] wearing a seat belt. [This message applies to] everyone who is in the vehicle, adults and children, because it doesn’t take much to cause injuries to anyone who isn’t wearing a seat belt,” said SRPD Officer Forrest Wood. “Seat belts do save lives, because they save you from major injuries or being ejected from the vehicle.”
Thousands of state and local law enforcement and highway safety officials across the nation will participate in the national Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilization from May 23 to June 5. Click It or Ticket has helped increase the observed national seat belt usage rate, which rose to an all-time high of 85 percent in 2010, up from just 58 percent in 1994.
“Because there is no seat belt law here in the Community, [the purpose of the billboard is to promote] education and awareness for Community members and other Native Americans,” said Wood. More visible traffic-safety enforcement efforts do increase seat belt usage in the Community, he said. “Like the billboard says, ‘Arrive Alive’—we want everyone to get to their destination safely. We are going to [focus] enforcement on speed as well, because speed causes serious injuries when people are involved in collisions and not wearing their seat belts.”
This year there will also be greater enforcement during nighttime hours, when vehicle occupants are more likely to be seriously injured in crashes and less likely to be wearing seat belts (see sidebar).
The officers of the SRPD Traffic Enforcement Bureau decided to use the basket-print background on the billboard because they wanted to keep the message geared toward Community members.
“We are doing a hard push to get the message out, with [both] the billboard and bumper stickers of the billboard,” said SRPD Sergeant Anthony Sandoval.
The billboard was funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Indian Highway Safety Program. Overtime for officers during the Click It or Ticket campaign will be funded by both the BIA and the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
Note: On March 10, 2010, the SPRMIC Council repealed SRO-321-07, the Community’s seatbelt ordinance as the ordinance was in need of clarification. The Council tasked the Office of General Counsel (OGC) to develop a civil traffic code. OGC has been working on redrafting a comprehensive traffic code amendment and hope to present a draft of the revised traffic code to Council by the end of the summer and then be presented to the Community.
Too Many Are Not Getting the Message…
The Bad News
• In 2009, 23,382 occupants of passenger cars, pickup trucks, vans and SUVs were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and 53 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants were not wearing seat belts.
• During the same year, 11,593 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in motor vehicle crashes at night (from 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.). Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) were not wearing seat belts, compared with 44 percent of occupants killed during the daytime hours of 6 a.m. to 5:59 p.m.
• Almost half (42 percent) of the 754 passenger vehicle occupants age 12 and older killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes were not buckled up.
• Passenger vehicle occupants ages 13 to 15 have the highest percentage (67 percent) of all age groups to be unrestrained and fatally injured in traffic crashes.
• Among adult passenger vehicle occupants ages 18 to 34 who were killed in crashes, 63 percent were not buckled up — the second highest percentage for any age group.
• Men are less likely than women to buckle up. This is especially true of young men. In 2009, 66 percent of men 18 to 34 killed in passenger vehicles were not wearing seat belts.
• Pickup truck drivers and passengers continue to have lower restraint use rates than occupants of other passenger vehicles. In 2009, 68 percent of pickup truck occupants who were killed in traffic crashes were not buckled up.
The Good News
• Seat belts, when used by passenger vehicle occupants age 5 and older, saved an estimated 12,713 lives in 2009, more than 72,000 lives from 2005 through 2009, and 267,890 lives from 1975 through 2009.
• Worn correctly, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent for front-seat passenger car occupants and by 60 percent for pickup truck, SUV and van occupants.
• In fatal crashes in 2009, 77 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were thrown from their vehicles were killed. However, only 1 percent of crash victims who were buckled up were totally ejected from their vehicles, compared with 31 percent of those who were unbuckled.
• Motorists are 75 percent less likely to be killed in rollover crashes if they are buckled up.
Submitted by the Salt River Police Department. Statistics for 2009 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.