Click it or ticket … or else?

By Chelsea Fiddyment

In case you haven’t seen the obnoxiously blatant “Click It or Ticket” banners strung about every kind of fencing in towns across the state, May was apparently Click It or Ticket Mobilization Month. I finally became so annoyed about seeing these horrendous signs that I decided to check out the listed on them, buckleupillinois.org.

The central goal of the mobilization campaign is to lower car accident injuries and fatalities in Illinois essentially by advertising the threat of penalty (tickets and fines) for not buckling up. What this means is that 1) the state has paid, at least in part, to hang up these banners and post “seat belt enforcement zone” signs all over Illinois in order to decrease these injury statistics, and 2) state government also wants to encourage people to download or order other items to advertise the Click It or Ticket campaign. These promotional tools include static clings, paycheck inserts and even pizza box stickers.

I understand that distribution of promotional items is an attempt to get the community more invested in the success of the program while doing some of the footwork for the state. But the primary responsibility lies with driving instructors and parents: two groups of people who can either personally mandate that their wards buckle up, and who can successfully foster the habit of wearing a seat belt through repetition and personal demonstration.

With that in mind, it’s frustrating to know that transportation funding that could have been spent on other safety issues has gone to put up public eyesores promoting seat belt enforcement laws. Yes, seat belts save lives. Yes, it’s a good idea to make a habit of wearing one at all times and make sure others in your vehicle are belted in. But no, it’s not really the state’s responsibility, especially fiscally, to make certain that every adult in Illinois wears their seat belt.

As an adult driver, if you are willing to risk your personal safety and possibly your life because you think your seat belt feels uncomfortable, be my guest. If you opt not to enforce buckling up with everyone who rides in your car, go ahead, pal. If you find yourself in an accident and the physical well being of your passenger is compromised, it’s on you. The same thing goes for passengers who refuse to wear their seat belts-it’s your life and your choice. Please note that we are discussing adult drivers, not learning drivers or young children.

In theory, personal choice to wear a seat belt is the same as the choice to wear a motorcycle helmet. If I had to choose between potential temporary discomfort and my life, the decision would be easy. But if someone else wants to risk becoming a road pancake or flying through the windshield of their car, the state should not try to function as your personal nanny or allocate federal funding toward that end. This money could be presented as safety grants toward campaigns that target problems that directly result from the unfair compromise of someone else’s life or well-being (such as drunk driving).

That being said, it’s June 3. If people aren’t buckled up by now, they probably aren’t going to be. Maybe the state can spend more safety funding on removing their banner from my backyard.