Iowa is joining a nationwide push to get more people to wear their seatbelts. The leader of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration joined Iowa law officers today (Tuesday) to announce the “Buckle up or Pay up” program. Jeff Runge says the program runs May 26th through June 4th. He says for many Iowa families the Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer traffic season. He says nine out of ten trips will be in personal vehicles and they want people to arrive safely. Runge says officers in Iowa and nationwide will be targeting people who don’t buckle up.He says the message is clear,”If you do not wear your seatbelt, the law will be enforced, and you will get a ticket.” He says the campaign has a 30 million dollar advertising “bolus” from the federal government and several states. Runge says the success of the program does not depend on the law officers. He says it rests on the personal responsibility of the people who drive and ride in cars and trucks, taking a simple action to keep themselves and their families from becoming a statistic. Runge has a direct message to teenagers. He says teen belt use is the lowest of any age group, and the death rate for those age 16 to 20 years of age is the highest. He says about 64-percent of the people age 16 to 20 that were killed, were not wearing their safety belts. He says they estimate about half of those killed would’ve been saved had they worn safety belts. Iowa ranks seventh in the nation for seatbelt use at 87-percent. Runge says Washington has 94-percent usage, and California has 91-percent usage. Runge challenged Iowa to push to that level. He says enforcement has been the difference in states that’ve been successful. He says it’s not enforcement in a vacuum, its enforcement with education. He says it’s not about giving out more tickets, it’s about getting everyone buckled up. He says it’s very costly to everyone in lost lives and property for those who don’t buckle up, so a ticket is very appropriate. The Iowa State Patrol says a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt in Iowa will cost you 49-dollars and fifty cents.
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