MARQUETTE - Expanded enforcement could mean more unbuckled motorists find themselves on the receiving end of a $65 penalty. As of Monday, law enforcement agencies across the state are stepping up seat belt enforcement for the annual Click It or Ticket campaign that seeks to reduce traffic deaths and injuries by increasing seat belt use.
Local police departments, sheriff's offices and Michigan State Police posts in 40 counties will conduct federally funded seat belt enforcement zones through the busy Memorial Day travel weekend. This is an increase from 26 counties last year.
A new awareness campaign by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning highlights the enforcement and features a referee throwing penalty flags at unbuckled and improperly belted drivers. The call is followed by law enforcement issuing the penalty: a loss of $65.
A Marquette County Sheriff’s deputy watches for motorists wearing seat belts on a section of U.S. 41 near the Westwood Mall in Marquette from his cruiser. Marquette police, Michigan State Police and the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office are working together on the patrols as part of the Click it or Ticket enforcement campaign that started Monday and will last through Memorial Day weekend. (Journal file photo)
"Seat belt use has dropped in Michigan, and we're doing all we can to save lives and reduce injuries by stressing the importance of belt use and Michigan's seat belt law," said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. "With seat belt enforcement zones in effect, motorists need to play defense by buckling up."
A seat belt enforcement zone is marked with a large portable sign. Law enforcement officers are stationed throughout this area looking for and stopping unbuckled motorists.
Law enforcement officers from nearly 160 agencies in Marquette as well as Alpena, Antrim, Allegan, Berrien, Calhoun, Charlevoix, Chippewa, Cheboygan, Crawford, Delta, Dickinson, Eaton, Emmet, Genesee, Gogebic, Grand Traverse, Houghton, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kalkaska, Kent, Leelanau, Livingston, Mackinac, Macomb, Manistee, Menominee, Monroe, Muskegon, Oakland, Ostego, Ottawa, Saginaw, St. Clair, Van Buren, Washtenaw, Wayne and Wexford counties are participating in the national seat belt campaign.
During last year's Click It or Ticket enforcement, 9,003 seat belt and child seat violation tickets were issued. Of the 15 people who died over the Memorial Day holiday period in 2013, two of the nine vehicle occupants were not wearing a seat belt.
Michigan law requires all drivers 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 feet 9 inches tall.