University Police joins ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign

Drivers on campus who consistently leave their seatbelts unbuckled while driving will be under closer surveillance starting this week as part of University Police’s (UP) “Click It or Ticket” campaign, concentrating enforcement on seatbelt violations.

UP spokeswoman Lt. Charlotte Domingo said police officers will be focusing heavily on seatbelt compliance during routine patrol and traffic enforcement throughout the campaign, which started Monday and will run untilJune 2.

“It’s extremely dangerous to drive your vehicle without a safety belt,” Domingo said. “Wearing your seatbelt dramatically decreases your chance of being thrown out of the vehicle and increases your chance of survival dramatically.”

In 2011, 77 percent of car accident victims in the U.S. who were not wearing seatbelts were fully ejected from their vehicles and only 1 percent of crash victims who were buckled up were fully ejected from their vehicles, Domingo said.

“We’ll be enforcing (the campaign) on campus roadways and the roadways immediately off campus that are within our jurisdictional boundaries (such as Fowler and Fletcher Avenues),” Domingo said.

The safety belt compliance campaign is not only being conducted by UP, but local police agencies across the nation will also be cracking down on seat belt enforcement during the same period.

On the USF Tampa campus, a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt will be a $103 non-moving violation. According to Domingo, UP issued 385 tickets for not wearing a seatbelt to motorists on campus in 2012.

Domingo stressed that the campaign is about saving lives, not writing more tickets.

Since Florida’s passing of the Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law in 2009, officers can now stop motorists specifically for not wearing a seatbelt.

Jay McWilliams, a sophomore majoring in mass communications, said he thinks the truth is probably a mix of both.

“Most cynics would probably say they’re probably just in it for the money, but I think it’s UP’s primary responsibility to ensure safety,” McWilliams said. “Making money is just a perk.”

J.P. Alexander, a physical education graduate student, said he used to habitually not wear his seat belt, but he eventually realized it was not worth it to not wear a seatbelt. The fines and tickets, Alexander said, are what encourage people to be safe.

“In my youth, I hated wearing my seatbelt, and I paid the consequences,” Alexander said. “After paying all the tickets and going to court all the time, it finally clicked for me. I needed to click my seat belt.”