Police buckle down on seat belt violators

Published 10:40 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Suffolk police are joining with their local, state and national counterparts and highway safety advocates to remind motorists to buckle up or risk getting a ticket.

Area police are participating in the 2011 national “Click It or Ticket” campaign to encourage seat belt usage. During the next two weeks, officers will be cracking down on drivers and passengers who fail to wear their seat belts, no matter the time of day.

“Many more nighttime traffic deaths can be prevented if more motorists simply start wearing their seat belts,” Suffolk Police Maj. Stephanie Burch said. “We will be out to remind drivers and occupants to always wear their seat belts — both day and night.”

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Research has shown that nighttime passenger vehicle occupants are among those who are least likely to buckle up, and most likely to die in crashes when unrestrained. In 2009, nearly 62 percent of those who died in nighttime crashes were not wearing their seat belts.

As a result, nighttime enforcement has become a priority of Click It or Ticket.

High-visibility enforcement like Click It or Ticket and similar programs is credited with increasing the national belt usage rate from 58 percent in 1994 to 85 percent last year. In 2009 alone, seat belt usage saved an estimated 12,713 lives nationwide.

“Local motorists should be prepared to buckle up,” Burch said. “If law enforcement finds you on the road unbuckled, you can expect to get a ticket.”