The South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) kicked off its Buckle Up, South Carolina! safety belt campaign Wednesday as law enforcement prepares for the busy summer travel season. The department, along with local law enforcement agencies and first responders, held news conferences in Columbia, Charleston and Greenville today to alert the public about the upcoming enforcement effort.
From now through June 3, SCDPS and local law enforcement agencies will conduct a unified enforcement effort focusing on South Carolina’s primary safety belt law as part of the Buckle Up, South Carolina! It’s the law and it’s enforced (BUSC) mobilization.
SCDPS joins regional and national partners in promoting safety belt use this time of year. The goals of the campaign are: to increase safety belt usage; to see a decrease in traffic fatalities and serious injuries; and promote a greater awareness about the role safety belts play in keeping motorists safe on the road. Troopers and officers will pay special attention to nighttime enforcement checks, as statistics show the safety belt usage rate drops during the hours between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“While observed safety belt compliance in South Carolina has been at – or above – 90 percent for the last four years, the percentage of persons killed in traffic crashes at night who had access to a restraint device was at nearly 60 percent,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith. “This is a behavior that only takes a few seconds to change and would save hundreds of lives each year.”
As of May 18 this year, there have been 320 highway fatalities compared to 349 on the same date in 2015; 120 of the 244 people with access to safety belts died unrestrained.
The BUSC campaign is part of the department’s Target Zero umbrella, which guides all enforcement and education activities at SCDPS, and represents a long-term strategy to reduce and eliminate traffic fatalities in South Carolina.
“Travel always increases during the summer months in South Carolina as people head to the beach and to their vacation destinations,” Highway Patrol Col. Mike Oliver said. “Our goal is to ensure that fatalities do not increase along with the surge in traffic. That is why the public can expect to see more blue lights as DPS and local law enforcement place a strong emphasis on impaired driving, speed, and safety belt enforcement.”