Buckle Up or Pay Up

Brennon Morioka
Brennon Morioka

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- If your safety isn't reason enough, perhaps a $92 fine will be. Police across the state are now combing the streets for people in cars who aren't buckling up.

"Reverse right here. Get off your phone," Officer Ben Lloyd, Honolulu Police Department, instructed.

It doesn't take long for Officer Ben Lloyd to spot an unrestrained driver.

"The reason I'm pulling you over is because you don't have your seat belt," he told the woman behind the wheel.

It's remarkable considering Hawaii boasts the highest seat belt usage rate in the country at 97%.

"Ugh, am I going to be on TV?" the driver asked Lloyd.

"I think that's the least of your worries right now, yeah," the officer replied. "The citation is what you should be worried about, your safety, yeah."

She's among the first to receive a citation, as a new Click it or Ticket campaign gets underway. Transportation officials say buckling up improves your chances of surviving a crash by 45%.

"When we look at 40% of our fatalities last year the people weren't wearing seat belts, that means we could have had 14 more people alive today," Brennon Morioka, state transportation director, said.

"You have any questions for me?" Lloyd asked.

"Ah, no," the driver replied.

"I need you to be safe, okay," the officer said.

State laws require all front-seat occupants, as well as back-seat passengers under the age of 18, to be properly restrained. Each ticket comes with a $92 fine.

"We're doing public service announcements both on TV and radio, passing out brochures, being out in the schools, and working with our partners in the police departments across all four counties just to get that message out," Morioka said.

During last year's campaign, police across Hawaii issued 2,793 citations for seat belt violations.

"You have a good day," Lloyd told another driver who was pulled over.

"Thank you, officer," the woman replied.

Police are also making sure that kids eight years of age and younger are in child safety seats. Last year, officers issued nearly triple the number of child safety seat citations compared to the year before.

This year's campaign runs through June 1st.