NEW JERSEY – With the start of the summer travel season just around the corner, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety and law enforcement agencies throughout state are preparing to join in the launch of a nationwide campaign aimed at getting drivers and passengers across the country to buckle up for safety.
From May 20 through June 2, New Jersey officers will be out in full force as part of the annual “Click It or Ticket” seatbelt enforcement mobilization to emphasize the life-saving value of seat belts.
Now in its 15th year, New Jersey’s Click It or Ticket campaign uses high visibility seat belt checkpoints and saturation patrols, in combination with local and national publicity efforts, to reinforce the message that motorist should buckle up during every trip.
Crash statistics show that from 2013 through 2017, seat belt use saved more than 69,000 lives nationally, more than 1,000 of them In New Jersey.
Experts say wearing a seatbelt reduces a vehicle occupant’s risk of fatal injury by 45% and critical injury by 50%.
“Despite many recent advancements in auto safety technology like crash avoidance and lane departure warnings, there is no device more effective in protecting drivers and passengers from injury and death than seat belts,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “Our law enforcement officers see firsthand the consequences of not buckling up. Click It or Ticket is an opportunity for them to educate the public to make a difference and save lives.”
When it comes to buckling up, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that New Jersey drivers and their front-seat passengers are among the most vigilant in the nation.
In 2018, they buckled up at a rate of 94.5%, well above the national average of 89.6%, according to a NHTSA-funded survey last year.
State traffic experts credit the successful compliance rate – a record high for New Jersey – to the education and enforcement efforts of annual Click It or Ticket campaigns.
However, not all New Jersey motorists are buckling up equally. The NHTSA survey found that a mere 39% of adults riding in rear seats used seat belts.
“For whatever reason there seems to be a disconnect with people feeling they don’t need to buckle up when riding as passengers in rear seats, and this is a concern,” said Eric Heitmann, Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “This year, our Click It or Ticket campaign will promote seat belt usage in all seating positions in the vehicle, both front AND rear seats. History has shown us that when it comes to seatbelt usage, habits can be changed over time. Buckling up in the back seat is an important habit that will save lives.”
Last year, 357 (73%) of the 491 police agencies in New Jersey participated in the Click It or Ticket mobilization. The agencies issued a total 19,659 seat belt citations, up from 17,792 issued during the 2017 mobilization. In addition to seat belt citations, police officers wrote 534 child restraint and 4,437 speeding citations, and made 661 DWI arrests.
As part of the Division’s on-going efforts to educate motorists year-round about importance of obeying New Jersey’s seat belt laws, Click It or Ticket posters, palm cards and other literature and materials promoting the “Click it or Ticket” message will be displayed in strategic locations across the state.
The state’s primary seat belt law requires all motorists and passengers in the front seat, including passengers under the age of 18, to wear a seat belt or be securely buckled in a car seat, or face a $46 fine. This ticket is issued to the driver.
Legislation passed in 2010 made it a secondary offense for adults over the age of 18 to ride unbuckled in the back seat of a motor vehicle. The law also allows police to issue a summons and fine of $46 to unrestrained adults in the back seat when the car they are riding in is pulled over for another violation.