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NJ Drivers: Buckle Up Or Pay The Fine This Weekend [AUDIO]

Be prepared to buckle up or pay the fines this holiday weekend.

Click It Or Ticket
Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media

New Jersey law enforcement agencies are cracking down on motorists and passengers not wearing their seat-belts as part of the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign.

Running from now through June 3rd, law enforcement agencies throughout New Jersey will be cracking down on unbuckled motorists and their passengers. Nearly 150 agencies received $4,000 each to run the seat-belt enforcement checkpoints and saturation patrols.

The crackdowns come during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, one of the busiest times on the roads. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 22,187 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2010 and 51 percent of them were not wearing seat belts at the time of their fatal crashes. NHTSA statistics show that in 2010 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 12,546 lives nationwide.”

Buckling up is the single most effective way for a motor vehicle occupant to avoid death or serious injury in a crash,” Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky said. “During what we expect to be a highly trafficked period, motorists and their passengers need to make their safety the top priority and wear their seat belt no matter how long the journey.”

The Click It or Ticket campaign has been credited with raising New Jersey’s seat belt compliance numbers since the state adopted the program in 2003. According to a 2011 observational survey conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University, 94.51 percent of front-seat motorists and passengers wore their seat-belts, compared with just 81.2 percent in 2003. That places the Garden State among the national leaders.

However, according to Poedubicky, back-seat compliance (61 percent) is extremely low and there is clearly room for improvement. “Our goal is undoubtedly 100 percent compliance with seat-belts. While we’ve seen the front-seat usage rate climb every year for the past 14 years, passengers in the back remain at a critical risk, especially adults, who only put on a seat belt in the back 35 percent of the time” Poedubicky said.

Last year, 85 percent of New Jersey police agencies, or 419 of 493, participated in the Click It or Ticket campaign. The mobilization ran from May 23 to June 5 and resulted in 32,228 seat belt citations, down from 35,671 in 2010. Police officers also wrote 926 child restraint and 5,865 speeding citations, and made 953 DWI arrests.

Legislation passed in 2010 made it a secondary offense for adults over the age of 18 to ride unbuckled in the back seat of a motor vehicle. The law allows police to issue a summons and fine of $46 to unrestrained adults in the back seat when the car they are riding in is pulled over for another violation. The state’s primary seat belt law requires all motorists and passengers in the front seat, including passengers under the age of 18, to wear a seat belt or be securely buckled in a car seat, or face a $46 fine. This ticket is issued to the driver.

“The goal is to really get people back to the basics of safety and buckling up while they’re in the car” said state Division of Highway Traffic Safety spokesman Zach Hosseini.

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