Recent research shows front-seat vehicle passengers who wear lap and shoulder belts reduce their risk of fatal injury by 45 percent.

Recent research shows front-seat vehicle passengers who wear lap and shoulder belts reduce their risk of fatal injury by 45 percent.

The Delaware General Health District's Safe Communities Coalition is reminding drivers and riders to wear their seat belts during the national Click it or Ticket campaign, which runs Monday, May 18, through the end of the month.

On Wednesday, May 13, the organization kicked off the campaign by holding its ownClick it or Ticket event that focused not just on the fines for not wearing a seat belt, but the potentially fatal consequences.

Event organizer Jackie Bain, safety coordinator for the Delaware General Health District, said the campaign is called Click it or Ticket, but "click it and live" would be equally appropriate.

"Not everyone is influenced by the same things," she said. "Some will wear a seat belt because of the threat of getting a ticket; others will wear it because they fear they could be hurt. We want people to understand that it's not just that you get a ticket, but that you could lose your life."

The kickoff event was held at the Delaware Area Career Center, with representatives from various organizations present, including local law-enforcement officials, Ohio Department of Public Safety members and fire and emergency personnel.

The career center's law-enforcement students brought out a simulator seat to demonstrate proper safety in the car and how to put on a seat belt correctly. People were encouraged to take a selfie while wearing their seat belt and finishing the sentence, "I click for ... "

Bain said the hope is to start a social media campaign that will spread the message of why people wear their seat belts.

"Young people are heavily influenced by their peers," she said. "If one doesn't wear a seat belt, they all won't. If one does, then everyone will."

Paula Ruzika was scheduled to speak at the event about the death of her son, but due to work commitments, she was not able to make it, Bain said.

Her son, Kenneth, was a 17-year-old firefighter trainee at the career center and was killed in a Delaware car accident with other firefighter trainees because he wasn't wearing his seat belt, she said.

"Unfortunately, he had his window open and he was ejected and killed on impact," Bain said. "If he had been buckled up, he would have been fine."

That's the problem with not wearing your seat belt: A not-so-bad car crash turns into a fatal one when you don't buckle up, she said.

"It's frustrating to us because it's unnecessary," she said. "This is what motivates me to share this information. I'd rather not have any of these stories to tell."

Last year, Bain said, two young children died in Delaware County due to not being properly strapped in.

"It's hard for emergency personnel to tell a family that someone died or someone is permanently injured because they didn't wear their seat belt," she said. "These are unnecessary deaths. We want to share this message and hopefully it will stick: click it to live."