PASSAIC VALLEY/WAYNE, NJ - Law enforcement agencies in New Jersey and nationwide are conducting the annual "Click it or Ticket" campaign. The safety initiative runs from May 22 through June 4 and promotes a zero-tolerance enforcement of safety belt laws.
Through paid advertising and the support of government agencies, local coalitions and school officials, the goal is to increase safety belt usage in order to prevent serious injury or death in traffic crashes, according to the State of New Jersey's website.
According to reports, the campaign has increased safety belt use in cities, states and throughout areas of the U.S. Approximately 387 police agencies in the state participated in last year's campaign. The seat belt usage rate currently stands at 93.35 percent, up from 91.36 percent in 2015. The highest usage rate was 94.51 percent in 2011.
In the towns of the Passaic Valley region and Wayne, local police have been cracking down on motorists who are not buckled by setting up roadside checkpoints. A checkpoint was recently set-up on the overpass from Route 46 west and into the Willowbrook Mall area, located in Wayne.
Besides pushing out a message on vehicle safety, the campaign also gives motorists more of a reason to buckle up - the increased threat of a traffic ticket. Most people are diligent in keeping themselves safe but many still are motivated to buckle-up in order to avoid a traffic summons, according to police.
Little Falls Police Chief Steven Post said that the goal set out by local police is to assist in every level with the campaign.
"It's a state-run initiative and we try to enhance seat belt use compliance," Post explained. "Seat belt use has been shown to reduce the amount of injuries or death resulting from motor vehicle crashes."
Capt. Laurence Martin of the Wayne Police Department echoed the sentiment. He said that grants are provided to municipalities to help fund the campaign.
"One of the major concerns that law enforcement communities deal with is traffic safety, and nationally, we've made some major upgrades to passenger and driver safety," Martin said. "We've done this by virtue of improvements through technology by vehicle engineering and safety standards that were utilized by vehicle manufacturers."
Martin added that an area where improvement is still needed is the mechanical part of the equation in conjunction with the human element.
"You have safety standards included and then you have human nature," he explained. "So what we want to do is encourage the human element to utilize the safety equipment in their vehicles to ensure that they're going to drive safely to get to the location, along with their families and friends."
Martin also noted that locally, most drivers are found to be buckled up, however, it's the passengers in the back seats that need to buckle up as well.
"Everybody in the vehicle needs to be secure in order for the safety dynamics to work well together and provide a safe environment," he said.
Additionally, Martin said that local checkpoints have also resulted in catching drivers under the influence of drugs, prescription drugs and alcohol.
"The other issue Wayne police have been concentrating on is the alcohol and narcotics abuse behind the wheel."