Starting today through Sunday, June 6, 134 law enforcement agencies across New Jersey are taking part in the 2021 "Click it or Ticket" campaign to promote seat belt usage and safe travels on Jersey highways.

A total of $810,120 in grant funding will help law enforcement agencies pay for additional officers on the road, seatbelt checkpoints and other enforcement initiatives during the campaign, said Eric Heitmann, director of the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

He said police departments in New Jersey are invited to support the campaign whether they received grant funding or not.

To kick off this year's campaign, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania will team up for a one-day, four-hour "Border to Border" event featuring highly visible seat belt enforcement for drivers at state border checkpoints. Heitmann said the goal is to reinforce that this is a nationwide campaign and seat belt usage and the life-saving purpose of seat belts doesn't change when someone crosses a border from one state to another.

One of the goals of this year's campaign focuses on seat belt wearing at night. Heitmann said in 2019, nearly half of the 22,215 passenger-vehicle occupants killed in crashes nationwide were not wearing seat belts. In New Jersey that year, 42% or 108 of the 260 passenger-vehicle occupants who were killed were unrestrained. The percentage of those killed and not wearing seat belts jumped to 55% at night between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m..

In addition, rear-seat passengers are being told to buckle up.

"It's really simple. Wearing a seat belt is the easiest and most effective way to prevent death or serious injury in the event of a crash," said Heitmann.

Across the campaign, participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a "no excuses" approach to seat belt enforcement, writing citations throughout the day and with a particular focus on nighttime enforcement. In New Jersey, the maximum penalty for a seat belt violation is $46.

Heitmann added that wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 45% and critical injury by 50%.

The Click it or Ticket campaign was not held in New Jersey last year due to the pandemic, said Heitmann. But during the most recent campaign in 2019, which ran from April 1 to 21, 341 police agencies participated in the enforcement effort. They issued 14,548 seat belt citations, wrote 5,670 speeding citations and made 858 impaired driving arrests.

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