Ga., SC law enforcement join in seat belt campaign today

Through June 3, officers from across the country will be cracking down on seat belt usage.

“The bottom line is if you can get two people to buckle up, you can save lives,” said Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gay.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 10,000 law enforcement officers will participate in Click It or Ticket, an annual campaign to raise awareness about seat belt use. The campaign began Monday and runs through June 3.

“We’re getting into that time now that’s known as the 100 deadly days of summer,” said South Carolina Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Judd Jones.

In South Carolina, seat belts were not worn in more than 60 percent of all traffic fatalities last year. The state has been focusing intensely on raising the number of people wearing seatbelts.

Nationwide seat belt usage was at 84 percent in 2011.

Although the law said vehicle occupants are required to wear their seat belts every day, the two-week crackdown is intended to focus on the importance of buckling up.

Research shows that men ages 18 to 34 are the primary audience in the campaign. In 2010, the group comprised 66 percent of those killed in traffic crashes.

Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said officers will be out in full force setting up safety checkpoints.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows that more than 3 million seat belt citations have been issued nationwide during the crackdown in the past five years.

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