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Watertown police stepping up seat belt enforcement this month

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  May 14, 2013 02:00 PM

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Drivers, it's time to buckle up: The Watertown Police Department will join 120 other local police departments and state entities in a two-week push to enforce seat belt laws locally starting next Monday.

The 2013 national "Click It or Ticket" campaign kicks off May 20 and runs through June 2, around when summer finally settles in and locals begin celebrating the warm weather and seasonal holidays, police said.

“As we kick off the busy summer driving season it’s important that everyone, including passengers, buckles up every time they go out, both day and night,” said Watertown police Sergeant David Sampson in a statement.

Various other local police departments will join the campaign, partnering with Massachusetts State Police and the state's public safety department, police said.

According to the US Department of Transportation, 54 percent of people killed in passenger car crashes in Massachusetts during 2011 were not wearing seat belts. The data also mirrors national trends: over half of the 21,253 car passengers killed in 2011 nationwide were unbelted at the time of the crash.

The national transportation department estimates that nearly 12,000 lives were saved across the country because of seat belts.

“Seat belts save thousands of lives every year, but far too many motorists are still not buckling up," Sampson said.

Police also warned that although the campaign runs for only two weeks, officers have been and will be enforcing seat belt law year-round.

According to Massachusetts law, drivers can be fined $25 for each person in the car not wearing a seat belt or federally-approved child restraint, barring any exclusions due to disability. Drivers can only receive the seat belt fine when stopped for a traffic violation.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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