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Click It Or Ticket!

May 20, 2004 (04-62)


News Contact: Ingrid Vandervort, KDOT Bureau of Traffic Safety, (785) 296-3756
                             Steve Hale, Corporate Communications Group, (913) 451-2990


Neil Smith endorses 'Click It Or Ticket' in Kansas

Aggressive enforcement effort begins May 24

OVERLAND PARK (May 20) – Neil Smith knows collisions, having caused more than his share during a stellar 13-year NFL career in which he relentlessly hounded opposing quarterbacks.

On Thursday, Smith took aim at another type of collision, the kind that is literally a matter of life and death.

Smith joined Kansas law enforcement officials to remind motorists of a statewide “Click It Or Ticket” public education and seat belt enforcement campaign being mounted by the Kansas Department of Transportation. Smith also encouraged participation in the May 22 Neil Smith Buckle-Up 5K Run/Walk at Arrowhead Stadium. Proceeds from the Buckle-Up 5K will benefit trauma services at Truman Medical Center.

Speaking from his Overland Park restaurant, Copeland’s, Smith said if the threat of getting a ticket will prompt more Kansans to wear their seat belt, then traffic officers have every reason to aggressively enforce seat belt laws.

Smith became a seat belt activist after the death of his friend and teammate, Derrick Thomas, and his nephew, Gary L. Dameron, Jr. Both were killed in separate car crashes while unbelted. Appearing with Smith on Thursday was Denise Dameron, his sister-in-law and the mother of Gary Dameron, who also has become active in traffic safety initiatives. She also advocated the Click It Or Ticket campaign.

“I guarantee that anyone who has lost a loved one because of a failure to wear a seat belt, or anyone who has had an accident while traveling unbelted  are big supporters of seat belts,” Dameron said. “We don’t want others to go through the same pain to learn the lesson that we have learned. We totally support this important campaign.”

The goal of Click It Or Ticket is to raise seat belt usage rates. In Kansas, just 64 percent of motorists wear seat belts, ranking it 46th in the nation. Persons under 18 were even less likely to wear seat belts than adults. During surveys conducted over the past two springs, only 55 percent of persons in that age group were wearing seat belts.

Thursday’s news conference also included appearances by law enforcement officers who appear in the Click It Or Ticket television and radio advertisements being aired throughout the state. The officers featured in those ads reiterated their intent to ticket persons who are not buckling up. Hundreds of law enforcement agencies throughout Kansas have agreed to mount a concentrated seat belt enforcement effort during a two-week period beginning May 24. The effort coincides with the national observance of Buckle Up America.

“We will be out in force, and we will not hesitate to ticket those who are in violation of the state’s occupant protection law,” said Lt. Harold Tillman, a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper. “Support for the Click It Or Ticket program is agency-wide, starting right at the top with our superintendent. (Col. William Seck).”

The ads, and the enforcement effort, are being funded through KDOT with a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.