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Originally published: 2014-05-30 11:32:35
Last modified: 2014-05-30 12:12:28

Our View: In every seat, and every time

The campaign to get North Carolina drivers to buckle up has been one of the state's most successful -- 21 years after "Click It or Ticket" launched, a survey last June indicated that nearly 90 percent of drivers use a seat belt every time they get behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, when it comes to vehicle passengers, the focus of the campaign -- on drivers -- has been a victim of its own success: In 2013, the percentage of passengers using a seat belt declined from the previous year to less than 85 percent.

That statistic is especially concerning in the High Country. With switchbacks, blind curves, steep grades and narrow roads shared with bicyclists, runners and walkers, unlike those found anywhere else in the state, safety is an ever present concern while driving in the mountains. And that's for everyone in the vehicle, not only the driver.

That's why North Carolina is right to step up its campaign to alert all drivers and their passengers that state law requires everyone in a vehicle to wear a set belt 100 percent of the time, no matter where they are sitting.

While law enforcement will be spreading this message through negative incentives -- in the form of fines that can reach $161 -- it makes much more sense to find the positive -- saving lives -- in the message.

The current "Click It of Ticket" campaign to educate drivers and passengers runs through June 1, but wise individuals will recognize the importance of making this a personal campaign each time they enter a vehicle.