With Memorial Day and the summer season just around the corner, the Middle Township Police Department is warning motorists that it will be cracking down on unbuckled motorists and passengers as part of the national "Click it or Ticket" campaign. This a wake up call not only for local residents, but for the thousands of vacationers who will be coming to the shore in the next few weeks.
Beginning May 18 through May 31, the annual initiative includes high visibility law enforcement seat belt checkpoints and saturation patrols, as well as local and national publicity designed to ensure that drivers and passengers recognize the life-saving value of seat belts.
"Using a seat belt is the simplest way for a driver and his or her passengers to protect themselves when traveling," said Gary Poedubicky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety. "In 2012 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 12,000 lives nationwide."
The front seat belt usage rate in New Jersey currently stands at 87.59% and the goal for this year's campaign is to increase the statewide rate to 90%. Poedubicky said the aim of law enforcement and public outreach efforts is to educate all motor vehicle occupants about the importance of buckling up every ride.
He added that this year's campaign will also focus on rear seat passengers and nighttime enforcement, when seat belt usage is traditionally lower and the percentage of unbelted fatalities is higher.
During the 2014 "Click it or Ticket" campaign, 374 police agencies participated in the two-week initiative, when law enforcement officers issued 26,635 seat belt citations, 4,363 speeding summonses and made 944 drunk driving arrests.
Hopefully, a word to the wise will be sufficient. So buckle up.