RICHMOND – The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and AAA Mid-Atlantic are joining Virginia’s first responders, local law enforcement and Virginia State Police to focus on saving lives through increased seat belt use by participating in the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign through June 4.
The annual campaign takes place during the Memorial Day holiday, one of the year’s busiest and deadliest travel weekends, according to the Virginia DMV.
DMV kicked off the partnership with the Virginia State Police, Henrico County Police Department and AAA Mid-Atlantic with a news conference Monday.
AAA is predicting more than 42 million people will be traveling nationwide for the long Memorial Day weekend, 1% shy of the holiday travel numbers from the pre-pandemic days of 2019. Nearly 90% of all travelers, or about 37 million people, will be on the roads. In the commonwealth, 1.16 million Virginians are predicted to be traveling, with more than one million of them predicted to be hitting the roads.
“The roads of Virginia will be very busy this weekend with holiday travelers, and that means there’s a greater potential for crashes,” says Morgan Dean, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson. “We want everyone to be safe. We encourage drivers to limit distractions, obey the speed limit, and make sure they buckle up everyone in the vehicle before they set out on that ‘Great American Road Trip.’”
More than 18% of Virginians still don’t wear their seat belt, according to the state’s most recent seat belt survey cited by the DMV. In Virginia last year, there were 5,427 unrestrained people involved in crashes, 3,702 unrestrained injuries, and 375 deaths involving unrestrained people.
Last year, approximately one of every two crash fatalities in Virginia involved occupants who did not wear a seat belt, it added. People aged 21-30 made up 68% of unrestrained fatalities and the highest number of unrestrained fatalities happened between midnight and 3 a.m. (70%).
“These numbers mean thousands of Virginians still choose not to make the simple, safe choice of buckling up as their best defense against a reckless, impaired or distracted driver,” says DMV Commissioner Gerald Lackey, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “By participating in ‘Click It or Ticket’, we are raising awareness and educating Virginians on the importance of always wearing a seat belt, every time.”
Law enforcement will support DMV’s seat belt awareness messaging by conducting high visibility enforcement along busy roads and highways to prevent avoidable crashes and save lives, police said.
“Buckling up is not merely a legal obligation,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Wearing a seat belt is an act of self-preservation. Moreover, the impact of wearing seat belts extends beyond our own lives. It sets an example for others, especially our young people who are observing our behaviors and learning from our actions. Simply click it and avoid the ticket.”
“Speeding is one of top traffic complaints Henrico Police receives, and oftentimes it leads to deadly consequences when our drivers and passengers are not properly restrained,” said Henrico County Chief of Police Eric D. English. “In 2022, the metro-Richmond area saw 55 fatal crashes where occupants were not wearing seat belts. To remedy this trend, it takes not only police enforcement, but an overall community effort.”
“DMV partners with law enforcement agencies, nonprofits and other highway safety advocates to change behaviors and prevent needless tragedies from happening on Virginia’s roadways,” said DMV Highway Safety Office Director John Saunders. “Buckling up is the one lifesaving action you can take to significantly increase your odds of surviving a crash. Your life matters. Please make it click and remind your loved ones to do the same.”