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NHTSA People Saving People

Technology Transfer Series

Number 270, March 2002


During May 2001, all eight southeastern states in NHTSA'S Region IV conducted Click It or Ticket, an intensive belt use enforcement program. The program was the first time ever that an occupant protection selective traffic enforcement program (sTEP) has been implemented across such a wide region of the country. Occupant protection sTEPS are a proven method to change motorists' behavior and do it quickly because they create a perception among motorists that they will be ticketed if they do not buckle up.

Three of the eight states have a standard enforcement law (Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina), four have a secondary law (Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee); and one has a secondary law but allows standard enforcement if police are conducting checkpoint enforcement (South Carolina). Fines range from a low of $10 to a high of $30, and statewide belt use rates in 2000 ranged from a low of 50 percent in Mississippi to a high of 81 percent in North Carolina.

Click It or Ticket

Region IV's Click It or Ticket campaign was the full implementation and evaluation of a selective traffic enforcement program. Vigorous enforcement was at its core and the enforcement was fully supported with intensive publicity that focused primarily on enforcement of occupant restraint laws. The Region IV Click It or Ticket model included:

  1. data collection before, during, and immediately after media and enforcement phases;
  2. earned and paid publicity announcing strict enforcement;
  3. highly visible enforcement each day of the two-week enforcement period; and
  4. a media event announcing program results and thanking all the participants in the community.

Click it or Ticket's publicity and enforcement lasted over a four-week period, while organizing the campaign took about 13 weeks. During that time a variety of committees and subcommittees were developed, official and enforcement support were garnered, and plans for publicity, enforcement and evaluation were structured. In all eight states, the slogan Click It or Ticket, was repeated over and over during the publicity and enforcement periods. Both earned and paid media carried this slogan presenting a zero tolerance theme that the State's occupant restraint laws would be enforced.

Paid Media

A paid ad campaign ran for two weeks in most states. Radio and television ads were developed and aired extensively. Ads generally began one week before enforcement and continued airing during the first week of enforcement. The dollar figure spent to buy air time was approximately $3.6 million and media outlets provided additional airings without charge in some cases.

Diversity Outreach

A number of states modeled minority outreach efforts on South Carolina's November 2000 Click It or Ticket program. Efforts were undertaken to ensure that no segment of the population received unfair treatment. Diversity outreach committees developed relationships with elected officials and leaders from the African American and Hispanic communities. A number of States requested participation from faith-based organizations.

Monitoring Progress

Preusser Research Group conducted an evaluation of Region IV's program for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All eight states conducted statewide representative baseline observational surveys to measure the statewide seat belt use rate just before announcing Click It or Ticket to the public. Mini-surveys of belt use were conducted three times at specific phases; towards the end of the earned media phase; during the paid media phase; and just before the end of the two-week enforcement period at the height of program activity.

Baseline measurements showed that 65 percent of Region IV's front seat occupants were using a shoulder belt. The rate increased slightly during the week of earned media and then increased dramatically over the next two weeks to 74 percent at the height of the enforcement; 9 percentage points higher than the baseline rate. Analysis of the mini-survey data showed that both non-white and white front seat occupants had nearly the same level of increase on a region-wide basis, although the increases for non-white occupants were greater than the increases for white occupants in four states (Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee). Front seat occupants observed in urban and rural locations also had nearly the same level of increase. Males and pick up truck occupants' belt use increased slightly more compared to female and passenger car occupants.

Both the pre/post resident telephone surveys and the results from the driver licensing office surveys showed that Region IV drivers became more aware of Click It or Ticket over the course of the campaign. Both surveys showed large increases in the proportion of respondents who said that they had seen or heard advertisements on television and radio. By the end of the campaign, 84% of those who completed DMV surveys reported hearing about Click It or Ticket.

Enforcement Summary

The enforcement was real. One hundred percent of the law enforcement agencies in the eight states participated in the program. They issued a total of 119,805 seat belt citations, 9,495 child restraint citations, made 8,478 DUI arrests, recovered 254 stolen vehicles, and arrested 1,471 fugitives during the two week enforcement period.


For a copy of NHTSA Region IV's Click It or Ticket Campaign, May 2001, write to the Office of Research and Traffic Records, NHTSA, NTS-31, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590, fax (202) 366-7096, or download from NHTSA's website at Linda Cosgrove, Ph.D., was the contract manager for this project.

U.S. Department
of Transportation
National Highway
Traffic Safety

400 Seventh Street, S.W. NTS-31
Washington, DC 20590

Traffic Tech is a publication to disseminate information about traffic safety programs, including evaluations, innovative programs, and new publications. Feel free to copy it as you wish.

If you would like to receive a copy contact:

Linda Cosgrove, Ph.D., Editor, Evaluation Staff
Traffic Safety Programs
fax (202) 366-7096