The Dartmouth Police Department and the New Bedford Police Department were both awarded grants from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security's Office of Grants and Research (OGR) to increase the number of patrols and to remind drivers and passengers about the lifesaving benefits of wearing a seat belt.

DPD and NBPD will join other departments across the state, and the Massachusetts Department of State Police in the national Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign.

"Seat belts are the single most important safety item in our vehicles," said Chief Brian P. Levesque of the Dartmouth Police Department. "We see firsthand the devastating consequences of drivers and their passengers not buckling up. These funds will increase our traffic enforcement presence to help end these preventable tragedies."

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"Seat belts are the single most important safety item in our vehicles," said Acting Chief Paul Oliveira. "We see firsthand the devastating consequences of drivers and their passengers not buckling up. These funds will increase our traffic enforcement presence to help end these preventable tragedies."

According to the release, Massachusetts' seat belt use rate is consistently lower than the national average, ranking 45th in the 2019 seat belt observational study. At 81.6 percent use, over 1.2 million Bay Staters still are not regularly buckling up. The national seat belt use rate is 90.7 percent as of 2019. In Massachusetts, a larger percentage of pickup trucks (71 percent) and SUVs (65 percent) fatalities are unrestrained compared to passenger cars (60 percent).

According to NHTSA, seat belts saved an estimated 61 lives in Massachusetts in 2018. For nighttime fatalities, 68 percent are unrestrained in Massachusetts compared to 55 percent of unrestrained daytime fatalities.

"Seat belts are the best way to protect yourself from dangerous drivers," said Kevin Stanton, Executive Director of the OGR. "You might be an excellent driver, but not everyone else is. Seat belts are your best defense against impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers."

"Seat belts save lives. It's as simple as that," said Jeff Larason, Division Director of the OGR's Highway Safety Division. "Massachusetts has one of the lowest seat belt use rates in the nation. We need to change that."

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