‘Click It or Ticket’ Seat Belt Initiative Underway Across the SouthCoast
Local police departments are partnering up over the next few weeks for the annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign, promoting seat belt use through increased traffic enforcement in order to help reduce motor vehicle deaths and injuries.
Fairhaven and New Bedford are two of the over 200 departments taking part in the campaign, which is a partnership with the Highway Safety Division of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security as well as the Massachusetts State Police.
Fairhaven Police spokesman Sergeant Kevin Kobza told WBSM News his department has taken part in the program for a number of years, using the highway safety grant to hire officers for overtime so they are focused solely on the campaign instead of answering regular calls.
"They're out there working, stopping aggressive drivers, pulling people over for various offenses," Sgt. Kobza said. "With 'Click It or Ticket,' there's a zero tolerance policy for not wearing a seatbelt, so you will be issued a citation."
He said a seatbelt violation carries a 30-dollar fine and even attempting to fight the citation still comes with a $25 fee to request an appeal hearing.
Kobza said that in his experience, most people he's encountered while working traffic stops have been wearing seatbelts. He says he's surprised by the state's annual seat belt observation study, which suggests that only 78 percent of Massachusetts drivers wear seat belts, compared to 90 percent nationally.
"I think overall, people are pretty good about the seatbelts, but there are still select members of the population that don't wear them, and those are the ones we're targeting," Kobza said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 64 of the 172 people killed in car crashes on Massachusetts roads in 2015 were unrestrained.
Kobza said he thinks some people have become complacent about seat belts, or are entering their vehicles distracted by other things like texting or talking on their phones and forgetting to buckle up. He says seat belt education over the years has made a huge difference, but there's still work to be done.
"I think all the driving schools drive this point home, but it should start earlier than that," Kobza said. "It should start as soon as they come out of the car seat. They should go right from the car seat to the seat belt. It should start with the family, in the home."
The "Click It or Ticket" campaign runs through May 29.