U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – The VI Police Department (VIPD) and the VI Office of Highway Safety (VIOHS) are joining with law enforcement partners across the nation for the nationally recognized Click It or Ticket Border to Border (B-2-B) seat belt mobilization effort. From May 24 to June 6, 2021, national and local law enforcement will be increasing seat belt enforcement efforts.
Each year, VIOHS conducts an annual seat belt observational survey to determine seat belt usage rates in the territory. In 2020, the groups with the lowest seat belt usage rates included males (61.6%) and light pickup truck drivers (57.4%). Nighttime drivers are also prone to use seat belts less often.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belt use is proven to reduce the risk of crash-related injuries and fatalities. In 2019, the national seat belt usage rate was 90.7% - 19.6 percentage points higher than the territory’s 2019 usage rate of 71.1%. This comparatively low usage rate further dropped to 68.2% in 2020. Although the territory lacks the complexity of roads found on the mainland, crashes occur regularly. In 2020, there were 3,652 crashes in the territory with reportedly 214 involving unrestrained occupants. Of the territory’s 14 fatal crashes recorded in 2020, 43% of the victims were unrestrained.
Motorists are responsible for ensuring seat belt compliance for themselves and their passengers. It takes three seconds to fasten a seat belt – a habit that can save a lifetime of regret. In 2019, the VI Code was amended to require seat belt use for all back seat passengers. Too many people wrongly believe that seat belts are not required in the back seat, as it is safer. However, unrestrained back seat passengers can become projectiles in a crash hitting the windshield, the dashboard, or injuring other vehicle occupants. By adopting a culture of seat belt safety, every resident can contribute to the reduction of injuries and fatalities caused by crashes. Police Commissioner Trevor Velinor supports the consistent use of seat belts, as he stated, “Undoubtedly, seat belts save lives and our motorists and passengers can increase their likelihood of surviving a crash if they simply buckle up.”
Click It or Ticket enforcement activities are not about citations; they are about saving lives. Learn more about the Click It or Ticket mobilization at www.nhtsa.gov/ciot.
Buckle up, VI! Every trip. Everyone. Every time. For more information on seat belts, child car safety seat use or other safe driving practices, contact the Virgin Islands Office of Highway Safety through Director Daphnie O’Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Occupant Protection Coordinator Denise Gomes at email@example.com. You may also contact the office via telephone at (340) 772-3025 or (340) 473-7383.