Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
As Memorial Day approaches travel on Nebraska roads will increase. I want to remind all drivers and passengers to buckle up every time for every trip, short or long. We have a responsibility to buckle our seat belt and ensure our passengers do the same each time we get in a car or truck.
Nebraska law enforcement, public safety officials and community partners are launching a safe travel campaign in the coming days. The annual "Click It or Ticket' mobilization begins ahead of Memorial Day weekend Monday, May 21 and continues through Sunday, June 3. This is the eighth year our state has participated in this national safety campaign.
Nebraska recorded 181 traffic fatalities in 2011, which is the second year in a row that the number of fatalities have decreased. However, for the first four months of 2012, we've seen 18 more fatalities compared to the same period one year ago. We know that driving safely helps prevent these crashes from happening and using seat belts and child restraints is essential.
These numbers reveal that through the month of April, eight out of every ten fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants were not using seat belts at the time of the crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says wearing a seat belt increases the chance of surviving a serious collision by up to 50 percent. Having an airbag adds an additional 10 percent to the chance of survival. Of the 59 fatalities recorded through April, only 8 of the 49 vehicle passengers were wearing seat belts.
The "Click It or Ticket' campaign continues to be an integral part of our roadway transportation safety efforts. This year, the Nebraska State Patrol will be joined by 63 other law enforcement agencies from across the state to emphasize the use of seat belts and proper child restraints. Buckling up is the single best way to protect you and your passengers.
With many Nebraskans expected to travel during this summer, we want to remind everyone that it is the time of year when road maintenance and construction is necessary. Be sure to pay attention to those orange signs, barrels, and cones around work zones. In construction zones, slow down and be patient - it is a sign of progress. When involved in an accident, be sure to move any Interstate or highway accident vehicles to the side of the road when it is safe to do so. Remember that state law requires drivers to move over for emergency vehicles.
Law enforcement officers will conduct many special enforcement operations during the next two weeks that will include checking for seat belts and proper child restraints. Please help make "Click It or Ticket' 2012 a success by buckling up.