Just the mention of summer brings the thought of carefree days, vacation and enjoying fun times with family or friends.
While the price of gasoline may curtail some of your summer driving, there will still be plenty of motorists on Georgia roads this summer. When you get behind the wheel in a comfortable T-shirt, shorts and sandals, don’t forget the most important accessory … the belt.
I’m speaking, of course, of your safety belt. While the color of your seatbelt may clash with your colorful summer wardrobe, it could save your life. If you collide with another car or an object on or near the roadway, the failure to wear your seatbelt could result in your ejection from your vehicle and serious injury or death.
As the director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, I occasionally hear Georgians complain that tax dollars are being used to spread the message of encouraging drivers to wear their seatbelts. Some feel that it should be a matter of personal choice.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading killer of children, teens and young adults (ages 4 to 34) and among the top 10 causes of death for all ages. Over 30,000 people are killed in crashes each year in the U.S.
The economic cost of deaths from motor vehicles is huge. The Centers for Disease Control estimates the total crash-related deaths cost $1.55 billion annually in Georgia alone. That includes $17 million in medical costs and $1.53 billion in work loss costs.
Each day, I get an update on crash fatalities across our state. I am reminded that each of these fatalities represents a family’s life being changed forever. It may be the loss of a son or daughter or the loss of a husband or wife. Many times, the person who is killed was the sole provider for children who will now face an uncertain future.
That’s why we must enforce laws on seatbelts, child safety seats, distracted or impaired driving and speeding.
This summer, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is joining with law enforcement agencies all across our state for a program called “100 Days of Summer HEAT.” HEAT is an acronym for Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic. While driving a few miles over the posted speed limit or driving after a few alcoholic beverages may not seem aggressive to you, they are the deadly ingredients that contribute to fatal crashes on Georgia roads.
Our seatbelt enforcement program, “Click It or Ticket,” will be a key component of our enforcement effort. This campaign will be a day and night effort. In the daytime, we’ll be checking to make sure that children are in the appropriate safety seat and that everyone in the car is properly buckled. At night, we’ll be watching to make sure that no one has decided to unbuckle their seatbelt.
Our statistics show that many crashes involving a motorist not wearing their seatbelt happen at night.
I hope you are able to enjoy a vacation this summer and I hope you might consider visiting some of our beautiful attractions throughout Georgia. But bear in mind that wherever you go in our great state, law enforcement officers are not on vacation and will be working diligently to make every Georgia road as safe as possible for all of us. For more information on “Click It or Ticket” and “100 Days of Summer HEAT,” visit www.gahighwaysafety.org.
Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety