GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — From May 16 to June 5, law enforcement agencies across the state and country will be focusing their efforts on ensuring motorists are safely buckled while on the road during the annual Click It or Ticket campaign.
“From 2019 to 2021, seat belt usage fell from 94.4% down to 92.6%, so we’d really like to see it as close to 100% compliance as we possibly can,” Lt. Michelle Robinson with the Michigan State Police said.
Robinson explained that in 2020, there were 220 people killed in crashes and they were not wearing a seat belt.
“Studies have shown that seat belts save lives, and not only just the drivers and the passengers but also those in the backseats as well,” she said, adding that 58% of backseat passengers who were killed in crashes were not bucked.
Over the next few weeks, Robinson said more officers will be patrolling and focusing on those who aren’t wearing a seat belt. This includes those who have the shoulder strap under their arm.
“If you don’t want to get stopped and receive a ticket, the easiest thing is to put that seat belt (and) listen for that ‘click,'” she said.
According to the state’s website, a ticket could cost you $65.
For children in car seats or booster seats, Robinson encourages parents and those with a child in their car to visit someone who can make sure the car seat or booster seat is installed properly. She says a good rule of thumb is if the car seat doesn’t move when you wiggle it, it’s installed properly.
“If you have an infant that’s in a car seat that has the harness system on them, you want to make sure that you can only put about two fingers in between that harness strap and the collar bone of the child, that way it keeps that child secure in the backseat (and) if they are involved in a crash, that child will maintain its position in that safety seat,” Robinson said.
She added that children shouldn’t be in a regular seat in the car unless the “back of their bottom hits the back of the seat and their knees hang over the edge.” This is usually around the age of 9 or 10.
This campaign kicks off at the start of the summer months, which tend to see more construction and impatient drivers. Robinson said that if this leads to a crash and someone isn’t bucked properly, it can be fatal.
Sgt. Michael VanDenBosch with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office said that in addition to the summer driving pattern there has been an increase in speeding during COVID-19 that has stuck around.
“Speed is always a huge concern. It’s a large contributing factor to serious injury and fatalities. When you couple that with the lack of seat belt use, that risk of being injured or killed in a car crash multiplies,” VanDenBosch said.
For more information on the Click It or Ticket campaign, go to Michigan.gov.