More than 8,000 motorists cited for not buckling up

During a statewide effort to get motorists to buckle up, law enforcement agencies in 26 counties issued 8,050 seat belt and child seat violation tickets, nearly 1,000 fewer citations than during last year's enforcement effort.

Preliminary reports from police agencies indicate 14,761 vehicles were stopped during the May 21-June 3 Click It or Ticket campaign. The enforcement is part of a national effort to save lives and reduce injuries by increasing seat belt use.

Following the state's record-high rate of 97.9 percent in 2009, seat belt use has declined to 94.5 percent in 2011. Every 1 percent increase in belt use means 10 fewer traffic deaths and 130 fewer injuries. In 2011, nearly 200 people who died in Michigan traffic crashes were not buckled up.

"When properly used, seat belts can reduce the risk of being killed in a crash by almost 50 percent," said Office of Highway Safety Planning Director Michael L. Prince. "Efforts like Click It or Ticket are an opportunity to remind motorists about the importance of buckling up."

In addition to seat belt violations, 95 drunk drivers were arrested during the enforcement period and 53 drug arrests were made. More than 1,000 tickets were written for uninsured motorists and 535 for suspended licenses. In Detroit, a seat belt stop resulted in the arrest of a federal fugitive. While in Allegan County, a driver with unbelted young children in the car fled from police on foot and was arrested under the state's high blood alcohol content law.

Ten people died in traffic crashes over the Memorial Day holiday period. Of those, two were not wearing a seat belt, three were motorcyclists and two were riding off-road vehicles along the roadway. This is an increase from the 2011 Memorial Day holiday period when nine people were killed in traffic crashes.

Grant-funded counties participating in the Click It or Ticket campaign included: Allegan, Bay, Berrien, Calhoun, Chippewa, Delta, Genesee, Grand Traverse, Houghton, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Livingston, Macomb, Marquette, Monroe, Muskegon, Oakland, Ottawa, Saginaw, St. Clair, Van Buren, Washtenaw, Wayne and Wexford counties.

Officers will again take to the streets working stepped up drunk driving patrols July 1-8 and Aug. 16-Sept.