PIQUA — The Miami County Safe Communities coalition kicked off their annual Click It or Ticket seat belt campaign on Tuesday, encouraging safety belt usage with increased awareness and enforcement of safety belt laws.
“This is our third year,” Vicky Knisley-Henry, Miami County Safe Communities coordinator, said.
The Upper Valley Career Center hosted the kick off event with students from the Automotive Technology program offering car care stations to teach other students and attendees other ways to care for their car, such as how to change a tire, check tire pressure, check oil levels, and more.
Miami County Safe Communities received their grant for the Click It or Ticket campaign and their annual seat belt challenge from NHTSA’s Ohio Traffic Safety Office. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belt usage saves over 15,000 lives each year in the U.S.
Knisley-Henry said that Miami County Safe Communities is also seeing results from their continued seat belt awareness.
“Our seat belt rate is going up,” Knisley-Henry said. When they started out doing the seat belt challenges and the Click It or Ticket campaign, they saw approximately 88 percent of people using seat belts, and they are now over 91 percent, Knisley-Henry said.
This year, Troy Christian High School won this year’s seat belt challenge with over 90 percent of students wearing seat belts.
Lt. Joe Gebhart of the Piqua Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said that the end goal is 100 percent compliance.
State Farm, AAA, Kona Ice, Miami County Public Health, and various law enforcement agencies attended the kick-off event, encouraging seat belt safety. State Farm Agent Lisa Cano said it was just as important to them that students and others are safe while they drive.
“It only takes a few seconds,” Knisley-Henry said.
Seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45 percent and cut the risk of serious injury by 50 percent for drivers and front seat passengers during crashes, According to the Centers for Disease Control. Those not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash.
“Slow down, wear your seat belt,” Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak said.
Piqua Chief of Police Bruce Jamison called attention to Peace Officers Memorial Day, which was also on Tuesday. Approximately 135 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in the U.S. in 2017, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc. Approximately 53 officers have died in the line of duty this year so far, including two in Ohio, K9 Officer Eric Joseph Joering and Police Officer Anthony Pasquale Morelli of the Westerville Division of Police.
Jamison also honored the three Piqua police officers who died in the line of duty, including Patrolman Jan Mulder on Aug. 11, 1970; Lt. Noah Daniel Studebaker on Oct. 17, 1957; and Detective Robert C. Taylor on Nov. 2, 1982.
Jamison also explained how officers use increased enforcement of seat belt laws to promote usage of seat belts, saying that motorists and passengers do not expected to be involved in a fatal accident, but there is a liklihood that they could face a ticket for not wearing a seat belt.
“This is a very important issue for us to look at,” Piqua Mayor Kazy Hinds said. She encouraged everyone to “remember to click it and wear our seat belts.”
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