Police in St. Joseph County and throughout the country will be cracking down on drivers who aren’t wearing seat belts for the rest of the month.
More than 250 police departments in Indiana are taking part in the Click It Or Ticket campaign which started Friday, May 15, and lasts through May 31.
The goal is to get more people using their seat belts and to have children buckled in correctly. Seat belts can increase a person’s chance of surviving a crash by more than 50 percent, Lt. Tim Williams with the Mishawaka Police Department said.
“The bottom line is that every life matters,” Williams said in an interview Friday, May 15. “If more people use seat belts, we can save thousands of lives.”
More than 91 percent of Hoosier drivers wear seat belts, according to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, but Williams said that means that there is plenty of room for improvement.
- RELATED: Indiana State Police launch seat belt enforcement campaign, May 14, 2015
Officers with the Mishawaka Police Department and other departments throughout the state signed up for overtime hours specifically to patrol for drivers and passengers who aren’t wearing a seat belt or children who aren’t properly restrained in a carseat. Saturation patrols will be 24 hours a day through May 31.
The overtime hours are funded by federal grants through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the ICJI. And while the extra policing costs money, Williams said preventing fatal crashes can help save taxpayers money. The cost of a fatal crash averages about $1 million between the costs of police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians on scene, medical care, property damage and other costs, Williams said.
The Click It or Ticket campaign happens annually in May because it is one of the highest months for deadly crashes.
“We have more crashes on bright and sunny days than snowy or rainy days,” William said. Drivers are much more likely to be distracted by cell phones, music, GPS devices and passengers when driving conditions are perfect.
Drivers and passengers caught not wearing a seat belt are issued a $25 ticket. Points won’t be added to the operator’s license.
“At the end of the day, we want to save lives,” Williams said. “A life is worth a lot more than a $25 ticket. A life is priceless.”
PROPERLY USING SEAT BELTS, CARSEATS
Children must use an age-appropriate carseat until they are 8-years-old. Once children turn 8, parents and caretakers should consult their vehicle’s owners’ manual for recommendations on carseat and seat belt use, Williams said. Usually, children must be at least 4 feet 9 inches tall and weigh at least 80 pounds to use a seat belt.
Anyone using a seat belt must wear it according to the vehicle’s owners manual, Williams said. That means keeping both straps in front and properly buckled. Drivers who use a seat belt improperly may also receive a ticket.