Law enforcement enforcing seat belt use over holiday _lowres

Photo provided by Erin Foster -- West Feliciana Parish Sheriff's deputies are taking part in the national Click It or Ticket campaign that began May 23 and ends June 5.

Area law enforcement is participating in the national Click It or Ticket campaign in an effort to save lives through increased seat belt use.

The enforcement period began May 23 before Monday’s Memorial Day holiday — one of the busiest travel weekends of the year — and ends June 5.

According to research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, while 88.5 percent of passenger vehicle occupants buckled up in 2015, nearly 50 percent of passengers involved in fatal crashes nationwide are not restrained, and in some states, the rate is as high as 70 percent. This statistic highlights the need for increased enforcement and awareness of seat belt use, the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

The federal agency hopes to increase campaign participation even more by coordinating a coast-to-coast seat belt enforcement effort, with law enforcement concentrating on specific interstate corridors, such as I-10, I-40, I-70 and I-80. But the effort does not limit the seat belt campaign to these corridors.

“As law enforcement, we have a special role in helping protect the safety of our citizens from the east to the west coast,” Sheriff J. Austin Daniel said. “Time after time, we see the deadly results that come from drivers and passengers refusing to wear a seat belt, which is one of the most important steps in increasing survivability in a crash. Our job is to stop those who are not buckled up and to keep them from repeating this potentially deadly mistake.”

In 2014, nearly half of the 21,022 vehicle occupants killed in crashes were unrestrained, according to the federal agency, and from 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m., the number of those killed while not wearing a seat belt increases to 57 percent.

Daniel said deputies will be writing citations day and night with a zero-tolerance approach during the Click It or Ticket campaign.

“Hundreds of thousands of citizens will be traveling this Memorial Day weekend, as well as throughout the summer vacation season. We want to make sure that people are buckling up to keep themselves and their families safe. It is the greatest defense in a vehicle crash,” said Daniel.