As motorists take to the highways in the coming weeks during the winter
season, law enforcement officers will also be on the roadways to ensure
the safety of motorists. One particular concern is to identify motorists
driving without seatbelts and both national and Florida law allow officers
to issue a citation even in the absence of any other offense.
History of the Safe Seatbelt Campaign
The first Click It or Ticket program originated in
North Carolina in 1993 where 3,000 enforcement checkpoints were set up along with an advertising
campaign to build public awareness. More than 58,000 citations were issued
in the ensuing months and drivers' seat belt usage increased from
65 percent to 81 percent by July 1994. In 2002, 18 states including Florida,
Alabama, New York, and Texas participated in a national Click It or Ticket
pilot program supported by federal grants and more than 250,000 citations
were reported during the enforcement period. Since 2004, all U.S. states
and territories participate in Click It or Ticket Programs.
Since its inception, the campaign has met with tremendous success. Credited
with saving thousands of lives, Click It or Ticket has brought tremendous
public awareness of the importance of seat belt usage through television
and radio outreach and is particularly successful in changing behaviors of
men ages 18 to 34 who, traditionally, are the demographic least likely to wear seat belts.
The Click It or Ticket campaign has been codified in Florida law through the
Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law, which became effective in June 2009. The law allows officers to pull
vehicles over if someone in the front seat isn't wearing a seat belt.
Before the law's passage, officers could only issue citations for
non-seat belt usage if another traffic offense had occurred or if a minor
was not wearing a seat belt.
There are limited classes of people who are exempt from the law, including:
- Persons who have a doctor certified medical condition for which the use
of a safety belt is inappropriate or dangerous;
- Employees of a newspaper home delivery service or a solid waste/recyclable
collection service that is operating designated routes;
- Persons traveling in the living quarters of a recreational vehicle or a
space within a truck body primarily intended for merchandise or property; and
- Persons traveling in vehicles that are not required to be equipped with
safety belts under federal law.
The effectiveness of the law is undisputed. One year after the law's passage,
traffic deaths were reported to be at their lowest rate since the Florida Department of Safety and Motor Vehicles began keeping
records in the 1960s. Further, deaths of teenage drivers and passengers
who are the group most likely to suffer fatalities due to non-use of seat
belts dropped by more than 20 percent.
The Pittman Firm supports legislation that keeps drivers and passengers
safe on Florida's roadways. Responsible driving, including the use
of seat belts, is everyone's responsibility. If you or a loved one
has been injured in an auto accident, contact us today for help on your case.