seat belt rl Buckle up, especially if you're passing through New Jersey. Credit: Rikard Larma/Metro

Buckle up – the Delaware River Port Authority's annual Click It or Ticket seat-belt campaign in New Jersey begins Monday.

Officials with the DRPA's Public Safety Department, along with a host of other law enforcement professionals, will be stepping up enforcement of the Garden State's seat belt law and educating drivers about the importance of buckling up.

The two-week Click It Or Ticket campaign is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration andwill be advertised on variable message signs at all four DRPA bridges in the state.

 
"The federal government, the states and insurance companies have been collecting car crash data for decades, and their conclusions are clear and consistent," DRPA Chief of Police John Stief said in a statement.

"Seat belts save lives, and so do officers who remind drivers and passengers to buckle up."

Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 5 and 34; seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50 percent, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control.

Under New Jersey's primary enforcement law, police officers can stop a vehicle and issue tickets when one or more of the car's passengers isn't wearing a seat belt.

CDC figures also show that states with primary enforcement seat belt laws have a significantly higher buckle-up rate – averaging 88 percent – thanstates with no seat belt laws or secondary enforcement laws, which only allow police to issue tickets for seat belt violations when a driver has been pulled over for another offense.

The buckle-up rates in those states average 79 percent, according to the CDC.

Since the Click It or Ticket campaign's 1993 launch in North Carolina, national seat belt use has increased from about 65 percent to over 85 percent, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

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