University Police are participating in the November "Buckle Up New York – Click It or Ticket." A grant from the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Board provided funding for New York state officers handing out seat-belt tickets.
According to Lt. Kevin Velzy, New York was the first state to initiate a seat belt law in 1984.
"We’ve been a leader in helping to reduce driver-related injuries and deaths across the country," Velzy said. "New York state currently holds a 90 percent national average for seat belt compliance, which is above the 85 percent national average.
Velzy said that every year for the past 10 years, an average of 40,000 people have been killed in car crashes. Programs, such as the Buckle Up Program, show promise in increasing awareness and reducing crashes.
In 2007, before the program started, U.P. handed out four seat-belt tickets for the entire year. In 2008, when the program began, 45 tickets were written. In 2009, U.P. issued 176 tickets.
According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were approximately 37,423 vehicle occupants and non-occupants killed in traffic crashes in 2008. About 2,346,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the same year. In 2009, there were about 33,808 deaths as a result of car crashes. Approximately 2,217,000 were injured in traffic crashes.
Out of all those who were killed in 2009, 53 percent were not wearing seat belts, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported.
"People that are in their 60s-80s don’t always buckle up," Velzy said. "And then younger people don’t always think to buckle up, especially if they’re not driving. People going on a short trip think they don’t have to buckle up their seat belts. And the statistics show that’s when accidents happen: within one or two miles from your home or at low speeds."
Seat belts help to reduce passenger-related deaths and serious injuries.
"If you get down to basics, it’s going to prevent you from getting a ticket," Velzy said. "The average cost for a seat-belt ticket is $100.
The New York state law states that front-seat passengers must buckle their seat belts, as well as all occupants under 16. Velzy disagrees with the law.
"Everyone in the car should be buckled in at all times," Velzy said.