DMV emphasizes seat belt usage - Army file photo.jpg

FORT LEE, Va. -- The nearly 16 percent of Virginians who do not wear seat belts should be warned – state and local police are out in full force looking for unbelted motorists during the holiday season’s “Click It or Ticket” campaign.

In its latest survey, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles learned that only 84.1 percent of drivers in the commonwealth regularly use their seat belts. That result is lower than last year’s record high of 85.3 percent. The survey findings come as “Click It or Ticket” kicks off. The campaign combines high visibility enforcement of seat belt and child safety seat laws with outreach and education.

DMV, state law enforcement and nonprofit partners steadfastly continue their efforts toward 100 percent seat belt usage. They use statistics like the 308 unbelted motorists killed in crashes last year on Virginia roadways to underscore their work. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belt users are 45 percent less likely to be fatally injured in a crash. In addition, statistics show that 79 percent of people ejected in a crash die and 30 percent of unbelted motorists are ejected during a crash.

“As long as Virginians continue to lose their lives on our roadways because they are not wearing their seat belts, we still have work to do,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “Look at the statistics – wearing a seat belt is simple, effective and can save your life.”

In recent years, more than half of the people who died in Virginia crashes in vehicles equipped with safety restraints were not using them. In 2016, 304 unrestrained drivers or passengers were killed in Virginia crashes. There were 310 unrestrained fatalities in 2015; in 2014, there were 256.

It is equally important to ensure children are properly secured in an age-appropriate child safety seat. According to NHTSA, child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury for infants by 71 percent in passenger cars. For toddlers, the risk is reduced by 54 percent.

“We need your help to reach our goal of 100 percent seat belt usage in Virginia. Always buckle up and make sure everyone in your vehicle is properly secured,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the governor’s highway safety representative. “It only takes a second, and it very well may save your life or that of someone you love.”