Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Some of us don’t always do it. But this holiday weekend, driving off without first buckling up is a priority for all those extra police out on the road.
Alex DeMetrick reports you could bring home an unwanted souvenir.
There are plenty of ways to get written up, but a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt is becoming more common.
“We’re always shocked that that simple safety device is not used on a routine basis,” said Chief James Johnson, Baltimore County Police.
Putting out media warnings is becoming a summer routine. This year’s has special effects.
“If you don’t buckle up, you will get stuck with a ticket. ‘Click it or ticket,’” the PSA said.
College students have also been hired for a less high-tech approach. Papered with tickets, they’re paid to stand in public places.
“People are curious. They want to see what we’re wearing. We just tell them wear your seatbelts,” said Alan Lu, public safety worker.
“Amazingly, some 45 million Americans, 15 percent of us, still won’t buckle up. Young people, young men especially, are at risk,” said Roy LaHood, Transportation Secretary.
The highest unbelted fatality rates are among ages 21 to 34. They represent 62 percent of nighttime accidents and 44 percent of daytime accidents. Annually more than 3,600 lives could have been saved if seatbelts had been worn.
“Wearing your seatbelt costs nothing. Not wearing it costs everything,” said LaHood.
In most states, you have to be pulled over for something else before being ticketed for a seatbelt violation, but not in Maryland.
“Today in the state of Maryland, not wearing a seatbelt is a primary violation, meaning the officer can stop you based on observation alone,” said Johnson.
Nationwide, 10,000 departments will be looking.
As its law enforcement spokesman for this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation has selected Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson.