Newcastle Police Department to conduct safety belt patrols

May 15, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

NEW —4:10 p.m. May 15, 2012

Newcastle  police officers plan to urge motorists to buckle up — or else — on Click It or Ticket patrols from May 21 to June 3.

The patrols start as public safety officials celebrate the 10th anniversary of Washington’s primary seat belt law. Officials estimate the law requiring motorists to buckle up has saved 1,010 lives.

Besides the Newcastle Police Department, 37 agencies in Western Washington plan to look for unbuckled motorists and passengers.

Violators face a $124 fine for not wearing a seat belt.

Washington state is a leader in seat belt use in the United States with 97.5 percent of motorists wearing seat belts — up 82 percent since the primary seat belt law took effect in 2002.

Statewide, traffic deaths declined from 658 in 2002 to 455 in 2011.

Despite the successes, officials said four out of 10 people killed in car crashes in Washington in the last five years did not wear seat belts.

“We are getting the word out to remind everyone to buckle up so we don’t have to write tickets,” Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick, a former Mill Creek State representative and sponsor of the 2002 legislation, said in a statement. “The purpose of the law is to save lives and I’m really pleased to see how far we’ve come.”

Police in nearby Bellevue, Issaquah, Renton and Snoqualmie plan to participate in the Click It or Ticket patrols. Washington State Patrol troopers plan to join the effort, too. The effort is coordinated with support from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

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