Buckle up: Seat belt enforcement campaign kicks off Monday

The 20th Annual “Buckle Up New York, Click It Or Ticket” enforcement campaign kicks off Monday.

The statewide enforcement initiative will run from May 20 to June 2 and aims to raise awareness about the importance of wearing seat belts.

During the enforcement period, New York State Police and local law enforcement agencies, including Riverhead Town Police, will use marked and unmarked vehicles, checkpoints, and roving details to patrol for unbelted drivers and front-seat passengers. Law enforcement will also make sure children are properly restrained.

In New York, police can lawfully ticket motorists for not wearing a seat belt even if they are not committing any other traffic infractions.

New York in 1984 became the first state in the nation to require drivers and front-seat passengers to buckle up, and through continued education and enforcement the state has seen a steady rise in compliance.

According to the University at Albany’s Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, New York’s seat belt compliance rate has consistently remained at or above 90 percent since 2010.

“Statistics show that wearing a seat belt reduces the number of crash-related injuries and saves lives,” Acting State Police Superintendent Keith Corlett said.

According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,133 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017 and 47 percent of those killed were not wearing seat belts.

NHTSA estimates that in 2017, seat belts saved 14,955 lives and an additional 2,549 people could have been saved had they been wearing a seat belt.