Buckle Up, Duke

Duke Police participating in statewide “Click It or Ticket” campaign through May 31

As part of a statewide “Click It or Ticket” campaign through May 31, Duke police officers will be on a heightened lookout during campus patrols for unrestrained drivers and passengers.The two-week initiative is part of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, which is trying to reduce the number of traffic crashes and fatalities in North Carolina. This is the first year the Duke University Police Department is participating in the “Click It or Ticket” campaign to increase seat belt awareness and usage rates.Lt. Ron Evans, who’s been a police officer for about 35 years and worked with the Durham Police Department, said he’s seen firsthand that seat belts can save lives. “I’ve seen several fatalities that I think wouldn’t have been fatalities if people would have been restrained,” he said. Durham County has been flagged by the campaign as a county with a high number of vehicle fatalities that involve an unrestrained driver or passenger. So far in 2015, there have been more than 375 fatality crashes in North Carolina, and 27 of those occurred in Durham County.Out of those 27 deaths, 8 people weren’t using a seat belt. “The goal is to save lives, and we’d like to start with our Duke community,” Evans said.North Carolina law states that every vehicle occupant has to be restrained – whether they’re sitting in the front seat or back seat. Children younger than 16 years old must be restrained and follow the child safety law weight requirements. For example, if a driver is using a seat belt but a passenger is not, police will stop the car and issue a citation for the passenger, Evans said. The fine for not wearing a seat belt can cost up to $161.