(Host) State highway safety officials say they’re very pleased with the results of a recent public awareness campaign that encouraged Vermonters to use their seatbelts. The campaign dramatically increased seat belt usage throughout the state.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) The “Click it or Ticket” media campaign that urged drivers to use their seat belts marked the first time that highway safety officials had used paid commercial ads to promote their message. The campaign ran from May 20 through June 2 and was accompanied by a strong law enforcement effort throughout Vermont.
Jeannie Johnson, the director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, says the campaign had a stunning impact on seatbelt usage rates:
(Johnson) “At the beginning of the campaign, the official surveys showed 66.2% and at the close it was 84.9%, which I call 85 %. It was the largest cooperative enforcement project we’ve ever done.”
(Kinzel) Joining state and federal highway safety officials at a Williston press conference was Richard Counter, a Vermonter who says the “Click it or Ticket” Campaign had a dramatic impact on his life:
(Counter) “I was involved in an automobile accident on May 28 in which my car was totaled. The officer at the scene asked me if I had my seat belt on. I informed her that I did. She then asked me if I usually wore my seat belt and I told her that I did not. She asked me why I had it on at that instant and I told her it was because of the ‘Click it or Ticket’ program that I’d been hearing on the radio and my paranoia of getting a ticket. I think the program may very well have saved my life.”
(Kinzel) The federal government provided the funds for this project. The regional director of the National Highway Safety program, Jim Ryan, says he’ll ask Congress to appropriate additional money for this program because of its great success in Vermont.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.