Hiram police to reward seat belt users on Saturday

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Members of the Hiram Police Department will be kicking off their participation in the national "Click It or Ticket" seat belt campaign at the intersection of Wakefield Road and Garfield Road in Hiram from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, handing out vouchers for free doughnuts or ice cream to drivers and passengers wearing their seatbelts.

The vouchers will entitle those wearing their belts to a free doughnut from Maggie's Donuts or a free ice cream cone from the Garrettsville McDonalds.

The national campaign kicked off Monday, with law enforcement and highway safety advocates working to save lives by enforcing seat belt laws across the nation.

"Too many drivers and passengers on the road at night are not wearing their seat belts, and it all too often ends in tragedy," said Hiram Police Chief Ed Samec. "Our goal is to save more lives, so Hiram Police Department will be out enforcing seat belt laws around the clock."

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010, 61 percent of the 10,647 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes from 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m. daily were not wearing their seat belts at the time, compared to 42 percent during the daytime hours.

"Those who choose not to wear a seat belt will feel the heat from our officers who will be out cracking down on 'Click It or Ticket' violators. Motorists should buckle up every time they go out, both day and night," said Hiram Mayor Lou Bertrand. "Our officers are prepared to ticket anyone not buckled up, no warnings and no excuses. Click It or Ticket."

NHTSA statistics show that in 2010 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 12,546 lives nationwide. That same year, 22,187 passengers were killed in motor vehicle crashes, according to NHTSA, with 51 percent of them not wearing seat belts at the time.

Younger motorists and men are particularly at risk. NHTSA data shows that among teen and young adult passenger vehicle occupants in 2010, ages 18 to 34 who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, 62 percent were not buckled up at the time of the crash -- the highest percentage of any age group.  The number jumps to 66 percent when just men in this age group are included.

While this year's Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilization runs from May 19 through June 1, motorists should know that officers are out enforcing seat belt laws year-round.

For more on the national "Click It or Ticket" campaign, visit www.nhtsa.gov.

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