Lt. Allen A Fortin, Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office
Chittenden / Franklin / Grand Isle / Lamoille County Highway Safety Coordinator
As Vermont approach the Memorial Day weekend, which traditionally has marked the start of the busy summer travel season in the U.S., law enforcement agencies are urging everyone to buckle up when hitting the road. On Monday, May 22nd, state, county, and local officers from Vermont, New York, and Canada will again join their fellow law enforcement agencies across the United States and Canada, by participating in a “Border to Border” event to kick-off the annual two-week Buckle Up Campaign (also known nationally as the “Click It or Ticket” law enforcement mobilization).
Law enforcement agencies from bordering jurisdictions join forces across the nation to provide increased seat belt education and enforcement in highly visible locations near state borders, sending a message to the public that seatbelt use is required no matter what state you’re in.
This year is the the 21th anniversary of both Vermont’s and New York’s participation in the national Buckle Up campaign. This year we have invited our law enforcement partners from Canada to join us as well.
The Border to Border event will be partnering with SADD (Students against Destructive Decisions) chapters from Vermont and New York. Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of teens today, with more than half of those deaths being teens that were unrestrained while driving or riding in a vehicle. SADD’s “Rock the Belt” program is designed to address these statistics through education and engaging activities for high school and middle school students.
For this year’s “Border to Border” event, on May 22 we are holding a press conference at 10:30 AM at the Korean War Veterans Fishing Access on US Route 2 between Alburgh VT and Rouse’s Point NY. State officials from both Vermont and New York will speak at the press conference. Following the press conference, we will host a “Battle of the Belts” featuring students from Vermont and New York who will compete in this fun and educational competition. A small BBQ lunch will be served (free of charge) for anyone attending this event.
“The ‘Border-to-Border’ component of the Buckle Up campaign is so important because it demonstrates our unified commitment to highway safety” said Paul White, Law Enforcement Liaison with the Vermont State Highway Safety Office. “This isn’t just a Vermont issue, or a New York issue, it is everyone’s issue. And with an increased number of travelers hitting the road due to the Memorial Day holiday weekend, it’s imperative that we get the word out about the importance of wearing seatbelts.”
“Seatbelts save thousands of lives every year, but far too many motorists are still not buckling up. A shocking 63% of our fatalities were unbuckled in 2022” said Lt. Allen Fortin, the Highway Safety Coordinator for Vermont’s Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, and Orleans Counties. “We want to make this the safest summer possible. Buckling up is not optional. It’s the law and can be the difference between life and death in the event of a crash. We also want to remind parents to make sure that their kids are properly buckled up as well, by using an approved Child Passenger Safety seat.”
The annual two-week Buckle Up law enforcement mobilization will take place this year from May 22 through June 4. Vermont and New York law enforcement agencies will be using roving patrols and checkpoints on roadways identified as having higher unbelted crash rates. Officers will be enforcing aggressive driving, speeding, distracted driving and impaired driving violations during this period. These behaviors are the leading causes of serious crashes and for those motorists we encounter, wearing your seat belt will NOT be optional.