TRENTON – Law enforcement agencies throughout the state will be cracking down on unbuckled motorists and their passengers as part of the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign, Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer announced today. This year’s effort will also emphasize the life-saving importance of buckling up in every seating position in the vehicle.
Beginning May 24 and running through June 6, the effort will include law enforcement seat belt checkpoints and saturation patrols, as well as local and national publicity designed to ensure that drivers and passengers recognize the importance of buckling up, every ride. As part of the mobilization, the Division will provide grants of $4,000 each to 157 police agencies throughout the state. The New Jersey State Police will also participate in the two-week program. Additional police departments are also expected to participate using their own resources.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Click It or Ticket” is credited with increasing the national seat belt usage rate from 58 percent in 1994 to 84 percent in 2009. In addition, in 2008 the effort continued to have a life-saving impact, with approximately 13,250 lives saved across the nation as a result of buckling up.
Fischer added that for the first time, the campaign will focus on back seat belt usage by adults 18 and older. On January 18, 2010, legislation was signed into law requiring all occupants to buckle up, regardless of their seating position in a vehicle. A secondary offense, the new law allows police to issue summonses to unbuckled back seat occupants, 18 years of age and older,
when the vehicle they are riding in is stopped for another violation. Adult passengers who fail to buckle up when riding in the back could be subject to a $46 fine. (Under the state’s current primary seat belt law, all motorists and passengers in the front seat, as well as all passengers under 18, who are not properly restrained in a seat belt or car seat also face a $46 fine. This ticket is issued to the driver.)
“Last year, the front seat belt usage rate in New Jersey rose for the 13th consecutive year to 92.67 percent, bringing law enforcement and highway safety officials closer to their goal of a 100 percent compliance rate,” Fischer said. “While front seat belt use continues to increase, the sobering news is that only 32 percent of back seat passengers over the age of 18 currently buckle up. Since 2000, when the state’s primary seat belt law went into effect, 272 unbelted backseat passengers have lost their lives in traffic crashes.”
Fischer stressed that individuals must always remember to buckle up, regardless of the type of vehicle they’re riding in, or where they’re sitting in that vehicle.
“If you commute in a carpool or vanpool, remember it’s not just your safety that’s at stake,” Fischer said. “Unbuckled, back seat passengers become bullets in the event of a crash –
they continue to travel at the same rate of speed as the vehicle they’re riding in until they hit something. By not buckling up, you could be the reason why a co-worker is seriously injured, or even worse, killed in a crash. Buckle up not just for yourself, but for your co-workers, your family, and everyone who is counting on you to arrive at your destination safely.”
“The single most important thing that a driver or passenger can do in an automobile, which may one day save their lives, is to buckle up,” said Raymond P. Martinez, Acting Chief Administrator, Motor Vehicle Commission. “Click it or ticket, it’s the law.”
“Highlighting the importance of seatbelts for drivers and passengers alike is especially timely with the family vacation season fast approaching,” said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson. “Seat belts save lives, so every occupant of every vehicle should buckle up for safety.”
During the 2009 Click It or Ticket” campaign, 443 police agencies participated in the two-week initiative. As a result of the effort, law enforcement officers issued 41,442 seat belt citations, 6,833 speeding summonses and made 866 drunk driving arrests. A list of agencies receiving “Click It or Ticket” grants is available on the Division’s web site, at www.nj.gov/oag/hts/grants/grantees.html .
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