SANATOGA PA – If you’re willing to risk driving a vehicle without wearing a seat belt anytime between now and June 8, the Lower Pottsgrove Police Department is willing to issue you a traffic citation for the privilege. In fact, it’s being paid for it.
The department has received $2,250 from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to participate in its statewide “Click It Or Ticket” seat belt enforcement campaign that began Monday (May 19, 2014) and continues for the next 21 days. More than 500 law enforcement agencies have joined the effort, PennDOT announced.
Typically, the money covers overtime expenses attributed to additional enforcement details. An overtime hour, on average, cost the department about $44 during April, according to the chief’s most recently available statistics. At that rate, the state’s funding will pay for about 51 added hours of “Click It Or Ticket” checks.
State law specifies that any driver or passenger younger than age 18 in a vehicle must be buckled up, and that children age 8 or younger must be “properly restrained” in a car seat or other appropriate and approved device. It also allows secondary tickets to be issued to drivers 18 or older if police pull them over for another violation and discover their front-seat passengers aren’t wearing seat belts.
Not surprisingly, the campaign will put extra emphasis on drivers and passengers age 18 and younger. But the state said it also is asking police to focus on night-time drivers, stretches of road that have a history of “unbuckled” crashes or fatalities, and drivers of pick-up trucks.
“The good news,” PennDOT claimed, “is that the number of highway deaths on Pennsylvania roads tumbled to a record low last year, with 1,208 being recorded. This is the lowest number since record-keeping began in 1928. Unbuckled fatalities also dropped, from 503 in 2012 to 425 last year.” That’s more than enough reason, it added, to urge motorists “to fasten their seat belts, day and night.”
Police officers won’t hide behind trees or billboards to try and catch drivers unawares, either, PennDOT said. As part of a similar, national promotion, it is encouraging what it calls “high visibility enforcement operations” to address low seat-belt use. PennDOT hopes to send what it called a “zero tolerance message to the public: driving or riding unbuckled will result in a ticket.”
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