Seat Belt Campaign Begins This Week

Police agencies across Chautauqua County are in the midst of a two-week crackdown on motorists not complying with state seat belt laws.

The annual “Buckle Up New York – Click It or Ticket” campaign is part of a nationwide effort in which police focus on unrestrained drivers and passengers. Seat belt checkpoints will be conducted from now through June 2.

“The goal is to get 100 percent compliance,” said Capt. Todd Isaacson of the Jamestown Police Department. “Clearly some of these goals may be unattainable, but we take a zero-tolerance approach to get everyone to comply.”

Jamestown police issue 10-15 citations a day during the two-week seat belt compliance blitz, Isaacson said.

Enforcement comes in many forms: Officers will survey major intersections within the city for motorists not following state law. Unmarked patrol cars, as well as officers on foot, will spot violators and notify awaiting police down the road.

“We’re very proactive about getting that compliance,” Isaacson said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than half of motorists killed in accidents in 2011 were not wearing seat belts. The administration estimated almost 12,000 lives were saved because of seat belt use, 444 of which were in New York state.

Outside State Police barracks in Jamestown on Monday, Sgt. Gary Segrue and trooper Wayne Osgood conducted a seat belt checkpoint, one of many to take place in the next two weeks. Dozens of vehicles passed through the checkpoint; no violators were found.

“We understand that we will never get full compliance,” Segrue said, “but every time someone buckles up it saves drivers and even helps reduces insurance costs.

“We understand we cannot get everyone, but we do have a zero-tolerance policy.”

State law requires all front-seat occupants, regardless of age, must be secured. The law also applies to all rear-seat passengers under 16 years old.

Fines for drivers and passengers found not buckled up can reach $50. Drivers who do not properly secure children under 8 years old in a restraint device may be fined $100 and receive three points on their driver’s license.

According to state driving laws, drivers are responsible for passengers under age 16.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently promoted Buckle Up New York.

“The importance of wearing a seat belt is clear: Seat belts save lives,” Cuomo said. “Taking a few seconds to fasten your seat belt or to properly secure a child’s safety seat is the easiest thing you can do to keep yourself and your passengers safe.”