Seatbelt crack down set

Effective Nov. 14, police throughout New Mexico say they will be extra vigilant in looking for drivers and passengers not wearing their seat belts. State Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught said the “Click it or Ticket” campaign will last through Nov. 28.

“The bottom line is seat belts save lives,” said Faught in a press release, “We have one of the highest seat belt usage rates in the country, 87.9 percent, but it’s my goal to have a 100 percent compliance.”

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records indicate that drivers of pickups in New Mexico are less likely to buckle up than other New Mexico drivers.

“Pickup trucks are twice as likely to roll over as passenger cars,” said Georgia Chakris of the NHTSA, “Safety belt use reduces the risk of dying in pickup rollover crashes by 70 to 80 percent.”

In August, a man died in an accident on I-40, 16 miles west of Tucumcari. He was a passenger in a sport utility vehicle driven by a female friend. The man was not wearing his seat belt and he died instantly. The female driver, who was wearing her seat belt, survived the accident.