'Click It or Ticket' seat-belt initiative begins on Long Island

Deer Park High School students race to buckle

Deer Park High School students race to buckle their seat belts during "The Battle of the Belts" contest in the school parking lot. (May 9, 2013) Photo Credit: Brittany Wait

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Law enforcement agencies across Long Island this week joined the annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign, sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, knuckling down on drivers and passengers who refuse to buckle up.

The campaign, for most agencies, began Tuesday morning -- and will run until June 1.

As the Nassau County Police Department, which started its enforcement campaign Monday, warned: "Motorists who refuse to wear their seat belts -- beware."

State Police said in a statement that statistics provided by NHTSA show that "seat belts effectively reduce the risk of dying in a crash by about 50 percent." Enforcement and education, State Police said, are efforts to "increase usage rates," making vehicle travel safer.

That enforcement effort will be conducted both state and Islandwide, with State Police, as well as police in Nassau and Suffolk taking part.

Smaller agencies are involved, as well, including: Centre Island, Floral Park, Freeport, Garden City, Glen Cove, Great Neck Estates, Hempstead, Kensington, Kings Point, Lake Success, Long Beach, Lynbrook, Malverne, Old Westbury, Oyster Bay Cove, Port Washington and Rockville Centre.

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State law mandates that all front-seat occupants, as well as all rear-seat passengers under age 16, must wear seat belts. All children younger than 8 must be restrained in a federally approved child safety seat or booster seat restraint system.

"Too many drivers and passengers on the road at night are not wearing their seat belts, and it all too often ends in tragedy," County Executive Edward P. Mangano said in a statement issued Tuesday. "Our goal is to save more lives. Nassau County police along with the New York State Police and 17 village and city police departments will be out enforcing seat belt laws around the clock."

In 2012, there were 10,335 unbuckled passenger-vehicle occupants who died, and of those 61 percent were killed between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m., according to the NHTSA.

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