GLEN BURNIE, MD (May 19, 2022) – On average, each year in Maryland, 110 unbuckled drivers and passengers are killed in motor vehicle crashes. Many lives could be saved every year if all drivers and passengers buckled up. The Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s (MDOT MVA) Highway Safety Office and state and local law enforcement encourage every Marylander, driver, and passenger, to buckle up – every seat, every ride, day and night.
Last June, MDOT MVA’s Highway Safety Office conducted its annual Roadside Observation Seat Belt Survey at 130 select sites in 13 jurisdictions. The survey observed nearly 40,000 vehicles and observed 91.4% of front-seat occupants using a seat belt – an increase from 89.9% in 2020.
“Our seat belt use rate has been around the 90% for years – meaning 1 in 10 Marylanders are still not buckling up every time they get into a vehicle,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “We are focused on that remaining 10% of Marylanders and asking those drivers and passengers to take safety into their own hands and buckle up – no matter the type of vehicle, the distance or speed they are traveling.”
According to a recent Road Safety Attitudes and Behavior survey, two-thirds of respondents said they always wear a seat belt while riding in the back seat of a vehicle. That means one-third of those back-seat passengers do not wear a seat belt on some occasions. In the event of a crash, unbelted occupants increase the risk of injury or death to others in the vehicle by 40%, as they can become projectiles.
Five percent of drivers surveyed admitted to not wearing their seat belts when sitting in the car’s front seat. That percentage increased to 8% when the driver traveled within five miles or 10 minutes of home. While the 8% figure is a seemingly low percentage, short, routine trips can be some of the most dangerous. Most crash-related deaths happen within 25 miles from home and at speeds of less than 40 mph.
Starting Monday, May 23, through June 5, more than 35 law enforcement agencies across the state are joining together for the 2022 Click It or Ticket campaign, with additional enforcement efforts in every county to help save lives. Throughout the end of May and into June, advertising will run locally and nationally on billboards, television, radio, and online to spread awareness of stepped-up enforcement.
MDOT MVA’s Highway Safety Office will also promote its campaign, Be the BUCKLED UP Driver, which focuses on excuses often used by drivers and passengers for not wearing a seat belt, and why they are not valid compared to the most important reason for wearing a seat belt: because it saves lives.
Agencies participating in Click It or Ticket enforcement include Maryland State Police, Maryland Transportation Authority Police, Maryland Capitol Police, and Maryland Natural Resources Police, as well as the following agencies:
Anne Arundel County Police Department
Baltimore City Police Department
Baltimore County Police Department
Bel Air Police Department
Berlin Police Department
Calvert County Sheriff’s Office
Carroll County Sheriff’s Office
Cecil County Police Department
Charles County Sheriff’s Office
Cumberland Police Department
Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office
Easton Police Department
Frederick Police Department
Fruitland Police Department
Hampstead Police Department
Harford County Police Department
Howard County Police Department
Hyattsville Police Department
La Plata Police Department
Mount Airy Police Department
Ocean City Police Department
Prince George’s County Police Department
Princess Anne Police Department
Riverdale Police Department
Rockville Police Department
Salisbury Police Department
Salisbury University Police Department
St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Office
Sykesville Police Department
Talbot County Police Department
Taneytown Police Department
Washington County Sheriff’s Office
Westminster Police Department
Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office
In Maryland, every driver and passenger must wear a seat belt. Children younger than 8 must be in an appropriate booster or child safety seat unless they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall, or taller. If passengers older than 16 are not wearing a seat belt, the driver can receive an $83 ticket for each offense.
A bill recently signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan, SB0176, requires that beginning October 1, 2022, a person transporting a child under age 2 in a motor vehicle is required to secure the child in a rear-facing child safety seat that complies with applicable federal regulations until the child reaches the manufacturer’s weight or height limit for the child safety seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend that children ride rear-facing for as long as possible, as it offers the best protection in a crash.
Officials encourage everyone who transports children, including parents, grandparents, guardians, and other family members, to ensure they are using the right car seat for the age and weight of each child and that it is installed correctly. Agencies across the state, including the Maryland Kids in Safety Seats (KISS) program, offer in-person and virtual checks to teach parents and caregivers correctly to use car seats. Visit ZeroDeathsMD.gov/CarSeats for more information.