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Click It or Ticket campaign returns

ALWAYS SAFETY FIRST — Members of law enforcement agencies from across the Tri-State Area gathered at Wheeling’s Heritage Port Monday to discuss the Click It or Ticket campaign. On hand were Trooper Rocco Gagliardi of the Pennsylvania State Police and, from left, back, Wheeling Police Lt. Josh Sanders; Lt. Robert Bodo, commander of the Steubenville Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol; Lt. Maurice Waddell, commander of the St. Clairsville Post of the patrol; and Sean Snyder, program coordinator for the Northern Regional Highway Safety Program. -- Shelley Hanson

WHEELING — Seat belts save lives, which is why local law enforcement is asking motorists to buckle up this Memorial Day weekend during the annual Click It or Ticket campaign.

Present for a press conference on the topic held Monday at Heritage Port were Wheeling Police Lt. Josh Sanders, Pennsylvania State Trooper Rocco Gagliardi, Ohio State Highway Patrol Steubenville Post Commander Lt. Robert Bodo, OSP St. Clairsville Post Commander Lt. Maurice Waddell and Sean Snyder, program coordinator for the Northern Regional Highway Safety Program.

The lawmen said a national campaign to enforce the seat belt law was set to begin today and end June 5. To kick off the effort, a Border-to-Border enforcement event was held Monday evening that lasted for four hours on highways in the Tri-State Area.

“Bottom line, what it’s all about is traffic safety,” Sanders said. “It’s not about writing tickets and making revenue. This is about saving lives and when you are unbuckled you are at risk.”

Waddell noted the Ohio State Highway Patrol has a “zero-tolerance policy” regarding people not using seat belts. He said last year, half of the fatal accidents that occurred in his post’s area involved a person not wearing a seat belt.

Bodo said motorists need to use their seat belts every time they drive.

“Once you get into your vehicle make sure you put your seat belt on to prevent any injuries you can get from these crashes,” Bodo said.

Waddell said those who feel like their seat belt does not fit can purchase extenders from a dealership. In addition to being ejected from a vehicle, unrestrained passengers can also be tossed about the interior of a vehicle, striking and injuring other passengers.

Gagliardi said the Pennsylvania State Police also wants to help people properly install car seats for children. Doing so can prevent injuries during a possible accident, he noted.

“If you or someone in your family needs a child safety seat inspected and certified to make sure it is proper you can visit one of our centers or locations to make sure the child safety seat is installed correctly,” he said.

Waddell said in Ohio motorists who notice reckless or impaired drivers can call #677 or 911 to report them.

In 2020, there were 10,893 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States. In that same year, 58 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts,” Snyder said.

Memorial Day weekend is known as the unofficial kick-off to summer and in the law enforcement world the kick-off to the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer because of the number of fatal accidents that occur.

“Officers aren’t handing out tickets for the thrill of it. If enforcement wakes people up to the dangers of unrestrained driving, we’ll consider our mission to be a success,” Snyder said.

“If you know a friend or a family member who does not buckle up when they drive, please ask them to consider changing their habits.

“Help us spread this life-saving message before one more friend or family member is killed as a result of this senseless inaction. Seat belts save lives, and everyone — front seat and back, child and adult — needs to remember to buckle up.”

Waddell noted it is unknown if the higher cost of gasoline — now $4.45 per gallon at some local stations — will have much of an impact on people’s travel plans this holiday weekend. However, troopers will be prepared to work no matter what the traffic volume is.

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