More N.C. drivers, passengers buckling up

Posted November 21, 2008 3:10 p.m. EST

— North Carolina’s seat belt usage rate set a record this year, state Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett said Friday.

According to an annual survey, the state’s usage rate increased to 89.8 percent, an increase of 4 percentage points since 2005. The national rate is 82 percent.

"More North Carolinians are getting the message and buckling up," Tippett said in a statement. “Continued education and enforcement through our ‘Click It or Ticket’ initiative has truly made a difference in our state. I urge those who still choose to remain unbuckled to take five seconds prior to each trip and buckle up. It could save your life.”

The Governor’s Highway Safety Program administers “Click It or Ticket.” The program began as a national pilot project in 1993 to increase seat belt usage and child passenger safety through stepped-up enforcement of the state’s seat belt and child safety seat laws.

The state’s usage rate was 65 percent when the program began. In 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration adopted the campaign as a national model, and it is now used in more than 40 states.