Harrisburg, PA – With Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer travel season, less than a week away, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), and Highway Safety Network (HSN) are urging motorists to drive safe. The agencies are working with municipal police departments and other safety partners across the commonwealth to participate in the National "Click It or Ticket" (CIOT) Enforcement Mobilization running through June 5.
"Seat belts save lives," said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. "Through continued enforcement and education, we hope to see more people buckling up and fewer fatal crashes on Pennsylvania's roads."
In 2021 there were 12,672 crashes in Pennsylvania where at least one occupant was not wearing a seat belt, resulting in 378 fatalities.
In 2020, it is estimated that 94% of unbelted occupants, or 305 people, who were killed in crashes while traveling in passenger vehicles, including cars, small trucks, vans, and SUVs, could have survived if they had been buckled up.
PSP data from 2021 indicated during the four-day Memorial Day weekend, troopers investigated 844 crashes that resulted in eight fatalities and 183 injuries. State Police also cited 1,025 individuals for not wearing seat belts and issued 144 tickets for not securing children in safety seats.
As part of the enforcement mobilization, state and local police, along with law enforcement across the United States, participated in a Border-to-Border initiative on May 23 to provide increased seat belt enforcement at state borders, reinforcing the states' focus on safety.
Pennsylvania law requires any occupant younger than 18 to buckle up when riding in a vehicle, as well as drivers and front-seat passengers. Children under the age of 2 must be secured in a rear-facing car seat, and children under the age of 4 must be restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children must ride in a booster seat until their eighth birthday.
In addition to adopting a zero-tolerance approach toward violators, troopers certified as child passenger safety technicians will offer car seat fittings and inspections throughout Pennsylvania, helping ensure that car seats are in good working condition, installed properly, and free from recalls.
"State police child passenger safety technicians undergo thorough training and are available to assist you," said Major Jeremy Richard, acting PSP deputy commissioner of operations. "We encourage everyone to take advantage of this free resource to help keep their youngest passengers safe while traveling."
A complete list of child passenger seat fitting stations is available at psp.pa.gov.
Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Liaisons (LEL), a grant-funded program administered by the Highway Safety Network (HSN), are a vital link between PennDOT and local police agencies across the state. More than 400 municipal agencies are participating in the CIOT enforcement and education initiative to help reduce unbelted injuries and deaths on all Pennsylvania roadways.
"Once again, we are coordinating with our law enforcement agencies and highway safety partners during the national "Click It or Ticket" enforcement campaign to educate people on the importance of wearing seat belts," said HSN Executive Director Bob Schaeffer. "Law enforcement plays a critical role in increasing seat belt use by combining public awareness activities with targeted seat belt enforcement. Seat belts save lives. The single, most important thing you can do to protect yourself in a vehicle is to buckle up every time."
The CIOT enforcement is part of Pennsylvania's Highway Safety Program and is funded by part of PennDOT's investment of federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
PennDOT encourages motorists to visit 511PA's Historic Holiday Traffic page to plan optimal travel times on major roadways across the state this Memorial Day weekend. The holiday travel tool allows the public to see how traffic speeds on the Friday before and on Memorial Day in 2019 and 2021 compare to traffic conditions during a typical, non-holiday week. Users can choose their region and view an hour-by-hour, color-coded representation of traffic speeds to help determine the best times to travel during the holiday.
While PennDOT will remove lane restrictions and suspend construction projects wherever possible, the Historic Holiday Traffic page also allows the public to view interstate restrictions that will be in place during the holiday travel period.
The public can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles in Pennsylvania by visiting www.511PA.com. The service, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information, and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras. 511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
For more information on seat belt safety visit, www.PennDOT.pa.gov/Safety.
PennDOT's media center offers social media-sized graphics highlighting topics such as aggressive driving, speeding, distracted driving, and seat belts for organizations, community groups, or others who share safety information with their stakeholders.
The public can join the discussion on social media using the hashtags #BeSafePA, #BuckleUp, and #ClickItOrTicket.
Follow PennDOT on Twitter and like the department on Facebook and Instagram.
For more statistical information on the Pennsylvania State Police, visit psp.pa.gov.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Jennifer Kuntch, PennDOT, 717-705-1551 or email@example.com Myles Snyder, PSP, 717-783-5556 or firstname.lastname@example.org