For the first time, federally funded seat belt enforcement efforts will take place in all 83 Michigan counties to help jump start an increase in seat belt use and reduce traffic deaths and injuries. Starting May 18 through May 31, police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Michigan State Police will conduct stepped up seat belt enforcement as part of the annual Click It Or Ticket campaign.
The enhanced effort coincides with the 15th year since Michigan adopted a law allowing law enforcement officers to stop motorists for not being buckled up. According to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, 2,659 lives have been saved since the law began in 2000, as a result of substantially higher belt use. States with primary enforcement laws have higher rates of seat belt use.
“The life-saving properties of a seat belt are well established yet some motorists continue to risk more than a $65 ticket by not buckling up,” said Michael L. Prince, Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) director. “To help promote seat belt use, law enforcement officers will conduct dedicated seat belt enforcement in every corner of the state.”
Research shows when seat belts are used properly, the risk of being killed in a crash is reduced by nearly 45 percent. However the state’s seat belt use rate has fallen in recent years from a high of 98 percent in 2009 to 93 percent last year. Every 1 percent increase in belt use results in approximately 10 fewer traffic deaths and 130 fewer injuries.
During last year’s Click It or Ticket enforcement, 7,767 seat belt and car seat citations were issued. Twenty people were killed in traffic crashes during the 2014 Memorial Day holiday. Of those, seven were motorcyclists and nine were vehicle occupants, one of whom was not wearing a seat belt.
Michigan law requires drivers, front seat passengers and passengers 15 and younger in any seating position to be buckled up. Children must be in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4’9” tall, and children under 4 years old must be in the back seat.
OHSP coordinates the Click It Or Ticket effort. Grant-funded seat belt enforcement is part of Michigan’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013.