Click It or Ticket is one of the best known and most successful traffic safety campaigns in recent generations. This seat belt safety initiative began in the 1990’s and remains a vital part of highway safety programs all over the United States.

The History of “Click It or Ticket”

police officer writing a ticket

The Click It or Ticket campaign combined education and enforcement to promote seat belt use.

Before 1980, seat belt use was shockingly low. Only 11% of people reported using them.  Despite the efforts of local and state safety campaigns in the early 80’s, the number only rose to about 15%.

Behaviors began to shift in 1984 when New York became the first state to introduce mandatory seat belt laws.  Over the next six years, 37 more states followed. Most of these laws were secondary safety belt laws. This meant you would only get a ticket for a seat belt violation if the officer had already pulled you over for something else.  Still, these laws proved effective. Seat belt use rose to 50% by 1990.

In 1993, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration initiated the Click It or Ticket Campaign. It was first introduced in North Carolina along with their new primary safety belt laws, meaning that there didn’t have to be another infraction.  An officer could stop you and ticket you solely for not wearing a seatbelt. Television ads for the campaign specifically targeted new drivers and young adults in hopes of creating a cultural shift toward seat belt use in the new generation. Local law enforcement followed up these campaigns by making extra effort to ticket people for safety belt violations.

Click It or Ticket Success

The campaign had incredible reach in the decades that followed.  A survey in 2003 showed that 83% of participants had heard of Click It or Ticket.  Enforcement was also a significant part of the campaign’s success. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration still has annual mobilization campaigns, increasing ticketing for seat belt violations in the weeks after advertising. This combination of education and enforcement radically improved seat belt compliance, bringing it to 79% in 2003.  By 2010, this number reached 85%. Last year in 2017, nationwide seatbelt use was up to 89.7%.  

Spread the Word: Click It or Ticket

In our goal Toward Zero Deaths on Maryland’s roadways, we want to see 100% seat belt compliance in our state. Keep an eye on our blog for announcements regarding the next mobilization campaign.  We also host a variety of seat belt safety materials perfect for sharing on social media or with your community.