'Click It or Ticket' campaign returns
By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Staff Writer
The state Department of Transportation and the four county police departments will revive the "Click It or Ticket" seat-belt enforcement program, with the encore to run Monday through Dec. 1.
Department of Transportation spokeswoman Marilyn Kali said television ads will begin running this week announcing the upcoming seat-belt campaign. State law requires drivers, front-seat passengers and back-seat passengers under the age of 18 to buckle up.
Police officers issued 4,734 citations for seat-belt violations during the first "Click It or Ticket" campaign May 13 to June 2. Another 169 citations were issued during that period for failure to use child safety seats.
Seat-belt violators during the campaign paid between $45 and $67 for the fine, $15 for an administrative fee and $7 for a driver education fee.
During the summer national seat-belt campaign, Hawai'i ranked second in the nation in seat-belt usage with 90.4 percent. Washington state was first, at 93 percent.
Before the recent campaign, seat-belt use in Hawai'i had remained relatively stable, ranging between 80 percent and 85 percent from 1990 to 2001. That was well above the national average of 71 percent. Forty-two people killed in Hawai'i vehicle crashes in 2000 were not wearing seat belts, and 31 of them were between ages 16 and 35, state statistics show.
Maui County police Lt. Charles Hirata said a person not wearing a seat belt is more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during an accident, and is four times more likely to be killed.
"We recommend those in the back seats to also wear a seat belt because they can become a flying object and also injure those in the front of the vehicle," Hirata said.
Kali said a federal grant will pay for the DOT advertisements and some costs of the seat-belt campaign. Other grants would cover remaining costs, including overtime for police officers.
Reach Scott Ishikawa at firstname.lastname@example.org or 535-8110.