With Massachusetts drivers the worst in the nation in terms of seat belt use, police around the state will be on the lookout over the next week for drivers who aren't buckling up.
With the help of federal grants, state and local police will add extra traffic patrols. While they can't stop cars just for seat belt violations, they will stop them for other violations – and issue tickets if people aren't wearing their belts, a state police spokesman said.
David Procopio said his agency will launch about 470 additional patrols (each lasting four hours) in areas around the state, beginning Thursday, for the next eight days.
More than 240 local departments will also launch additional patrols, said Ethan Tavan, a spokesman for the Highway Safety Division in the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Police mount six such campaigns annually, he said, with some focusing on seat belts and others focusing on battling drunk driving.
The Globe reported earlier this month that the state has the lowest percentage of seat belt use in the nation, a fact highlighted grimly by three separate crashes over the July 4th weekend in which seat belts were unused and seven people died.
In Massachusetts, only about 67 percent of drivers are likely to buckle up, according to a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That lags behind even New Hampshire, the only state without a mandatory seat belt law, where the rate is 69 percent.
If stopped by an officer, anyone 16 or over who is not wearing their seat belt could face an additional $25 fine. The driver could also face a $25 fine for each passenger 12 to 15 who is not wearing a seat belt.
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