Drivers across the state and in Montgomery County will notice an increase in law enforcement patrols on the roads this Memorial Day weekend.
The holiday weekend falls in the middle of the statewide Click It or Ticket campaign, which runs between May 24 and June 6. On all roadways during this time, there will be an increased police presence to encourage drivers to wear their seatbelts,
Although seatbelt violations are secondary offenses, meaning drivers cannot be pulled over solely for not wearing their seatbelts, the Click It or Ticket campaign is designed to raise awareness of this law, especially since Memorial Day Weekend is usually heavily traveled, said Lt. George Jackson of the Virginia Tech Police Department.
“Click It or Ticket in general is about awareness of the importance ofwearing safety belts,” Jackson said.
Montgomery County Sherriff Department deputy James Dowyer said his department would be participating in a statewide “blitz” of U.S. 460, which runs the length of the state.
The “blitz” will feature increased police presence along U.S. 460, Dowyer said.
He said although there are not currently any safety checkpoints scheduled, the county does have “pre-approved locations” where checkpoints might be established. Dowyer also said although none are currently scheduled, “that doesn’t mean we can’t have them.”
Jackson said there are currently no checkpoints scheduled to be manned by Tech police, on or off campus. He said there would be standard Tech police presence on campus over the weekend, but because many students aren’t on campus right now, there were no plans for significantly increased coverage.
New signs have appeared around campus advertising the Click It or Ticket campaign. Many local radio stations are also raising awareness of the program.
Dowyer said his department generally conducts surveys of drivers before and after the annual campaign to gauge how it affects driver seatbelt use.
“We typically see a 4 percent to 7 percent increase in use after Click It or Ticket,” he said.
Dowyer and Jackson both advised standard driving safety procedures, including wearing seatbelts and avoiding driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances. Jackson acknowledged that in college towns such as Blacksburg, the number of people drinking and driving tends to rise over holiday weekends.
“Traffic safety is something people should practice every day,” Jackson said, especially in a “bike and pedestrian friendly area” such as Blacksburg.
Dowyer suggested motorists “drive defensively: Try to keep distractions down, be aware of your surroundings. Wear a seatbelt, and don’t drink and drive.”