Attention Michigan motorists: your seat belt works as a safety device preventing you from takeoff through your windshield, and wearing it could save you $65 as a statewide seat belt enforcement campaign kicked off Monday.
More than 200 local police departments, sheriff offices and Michigan State Police (MSP) posts in 35 counties are taking part in the Click It or Ticket campaign that runs through June 5 and includes the Memorial Day holiday. Motorists can expect more than 500 daytime seat belt enforcement zones and nighttime patrols to reinforce the importance of buckling up, day and night, because seat belt use falls sharply during late night/early morning hours.
"Seat belts are a motorist's best defense in the event of a
crash," said Michael L. Prince, Office of Highway Safety Planning director. "This two-week enforcement campaign is an effort to remind motorists to buckle up and more importantly, save lives."
Research shows when seat belts are used properly, the risk of being killed in a crash is reduced by nearly 50 percent. Although Michigan is among the top rated states in the country in seat belt usage, its use rate decreased to 95.2 percent in 2010 compared to an all-time-high rate of 97.9 percent. The last time the state's belt use rate decreased was in 2007, when it dropped to 93.7 percent from 2006's 94.3 percent use rate.
To help address this dip in belt use, five additional counties are taking part in this year's enforcement effort.
In 2010, the state saw its traffic fatalities increase by 8 percent, from 871 deaths in 2009 to 937. According to the MSP Criminal Justice Information Center, more than half of the state's passenger vehicle occupants who died last year were unbuckled - 321 people. In addition, 15 people died over the Memorial Day holiday period in 2010, the unofficial start to the state's summer travel season.
The campaign is funded through federal traffic safety dollars earmarked for traffic safety programs. These funds allow for additional police officers to be out on the road on overtime and not to redirect regularly scheduled patrols.
Michigan law requires all drivers, front seat passengers and passengers 15 and younger in any seating position to be buckled up. Children must be in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4 feet, 9 inches tall.
Because the campaign goal is compliance and not tickets, locations of seat belt enforcement zones are listed on OHSP's website at www.michigan.gov/ohsp.