MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz -- The station Provost Marshals Office will be a part of a national Click it or Ticket campaign sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that runs May 23 through June 6.
The biannual program is held to increase seat belt awareness and seat belt use while driving.
"The campaign is done in the summer around a holiday," said Staff Sgt. William Cardinal, PMO accident investigations chief. "Memorial Day weekend is the first major vacation of the summer and you see a lot of people on the road traveling. This is not just in the Marine Corps but also in general. The roads get more congested and you get more accidents."
The Click it or Ticket campaign is not supposed to be an increase in enforcement but it's an increase in awareness, said Phil Bender, safety specialist, Department of Safety and Standards. It is to try to get people to wear their seat belts and help them realize that seat belts are there to save lives.
"Now you are supposed to wear a seat belt at all times, but this is a reminder going into the holidays of how important it is to wear it," said Cardinal, native of Copertino, Calif. "Remember that a seat belt is designed to do one thing keep you inside the vehicle. Obviously, many cars these days have a lot of secondary restraint systems, but nothing else will work properly unless you're wearing your seat belt. Even a small, 35 mile-an-(hour) accident will mess you up if your face hits the steering wheel."
Bender added that the last three traffic fatalities he remembered all involved Marines who were not wearing their seat belts and were ejected from their vehicles.
"Many times, we just get in a hurry and we don't worry about wearing (our) seat belt," said Bender. "It may not seem like it would affect an individual, but you need to think about the people it will impact. Your mother is going to bury her child and your nephews are no longer going to have an aunt or uncle to look up to."
During the Click it or Ticket campaign all the local law enforcement agencies will be participating in the awareness drive.
"Especially during this time there is a no-tolerance policy," said Cardinal. "If you are without a seat belt, there are no warnings. You will be issued a ticket. And punishments for not wearing your seat belt on the installation can result in suspension of your driving privileges on station."
Arizona is a secondary state, meaning they can't pull people over if they only violate the seat belt regulations, but if the police stop someone for another reason, they can issue a ticket for not wearing a seat belt, said Bender.
To help raise seat belt awareness there will be a display by Arizona Chapter National Safety Council with a trailer carrying a crashed car by the front gate.
According to http://www.acnsc.org, information is posted with the trailer to teach new strategies and habits that will encourage permanent behavior changes.
"Random seat belt checkpoints will also be conducted," said Cardinal. "We will be focusing on people not wearing their seat belts."
In addition to the Click it or Ticket campaign, Cardinal and Bender, who are child safety seat technicians, encourage parents who have questions regarding car seats to ask them.
"The best thing we can provide is to properly train parents on how to install a car seat and how to make sure a child is in the seat correctly," said Bender. "That way if you ever take the seat out, you are capable of putting it back in with no problem."
By state law, children are required to be in a child protective seat until they are five years old.
"The suggestion is that children should remain in a child protective seat until when they sit back against the chair, their knees go over and (passed the front of) the seat," said Cardinal. "The reason you want to keep a child in some kind of child seat is to keep them correctly positioned with the seat belt."
The concern about child safety seats and the Click it or Ticket campaign are both set to encourage behavior modification that will reduce the risk of injury or death in any type of accident major or minor, said Cardinal.
For questions or more information, contact Cardinal at 269-1365, Bender at 269-2257 or visit http://www.buckleupamerica.org.