For many people, buckling up when they get in the car has become routine.
At least, it is when they’re in the front seats.
The Illinois Department of Transportation found in a 2013 observational survey that more than 93 percent of drivers and front-seat passengers were wearing their seatbelts. But more than one in five back-seat passengers were not.
Many people remember the days when the law didn’t require people to wear their seatbelts in a vehicle’s rear seats. But those days are gone, and have been for more than two years. Since 2012, Illinois law has required all people riding in vehicles to wear seatbelts.
Officials say it’s with good reason: In 2012, back seat passengers in Illinois accounted for 46 fatalities and over 5,000 injuries. Out of those 46 fatalities, 30 of them were not wearing their seatbelt, according to a police news release.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, using a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent for people in a sport-utility vehicle, a van or a pickup, and by 45 percent in a car.
This month, local police say they will be on the lookout for people who are not wearing their seatbelts, no matter where they’re sitting in a moving vehicle. The initiative, called the Click It or Ticket campaign, includes large departments such as DeKalb and small ones such as Kirkland, all over the state. The campaign continues through Memorial Day, one of the biggest summer travel holidays.
In Illinois, not only is wearing a seatbelt mandatory, but a police officer can stop you if she sees you’re not wearing one, and will write you a $25 citation. Also, all children under 8 years old must have a safety seat, beginning with a rear-facing seat until age 2.
Our state has made great leaps in reducing traffic fatalities, and seatbelt use has been an important part of that.
Remember to buckle up, no matter where you are in a vehicle – and not just this month, but all the time.