Starting Monday and continuing for the next two weeks, a record 145 law enforcement agencies across the Garden State will share more than $890,000 in grant money to participate in New Jersey's annual "Click it or Ticket" campaign.

A release from the state Office of the Attorney General and the Division of Highway Traffic Safety on Monday said that last year's mobilization yielded 9,755 seat belt citations to either drivers or passengers, 3,936 speeding tickets, and 555 impaired driving arrests.

HTS Director Eric Heitmann said in the release that according to preliminary data, 38% of those in motor vehicles who were killed in crashes in 2021 were not wearing seat belts, and that the "vast" majority of those were drivers.

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"The instant you buckle up, you cut your risk of a fatal injury in a crash nearly in half," Heitmann was quoted as saying.

Fatal crashes in New Jersey jumped 21% in 2021, and the number of lives lost in those incidents increased nearly as much, 20%, the highest recorded numbers in the state in 14 years, OAG and HTS said in the release.

And their preliminary numbers, through Sunday, already show another 15% bump in crashes and fatalities in 2022, as compared to through May 22, 2021.

The "no-excuses" approach law enforcement will be taking will have a "particular focus" on nighttime hours and driving behaviors, officials said.

The maximum penalty for a seat belt violation in New Jersey is $46.

To learn more about "Click it or Ticket," click here.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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