Click It or Ticket campaign kicks off

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State Police will participate in the national Click It or Ticket campaign, a zero-tolerance seat-belt enforcement initiative that began Monday and also involves Nassau and Suffolk police, among other law enforcement agencies.

The national campaign runs from Monday to June 3 and coincides with nationwide awareness effort by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The federal agency's stance is that seat belts save lives, and the enforcement program seeks to crack down on those who don't buckle up.

Nassau and Suffolk police announced that their departments would be part of the initiative on Friday.

Troopers, deputies and local police agencies across New York State will conduct safety restraint checkpoints and dedicated roving patrols in this effort, including over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, according to a State Police news release.

The holiday weekend traditionally kicks off the summer travel season and is one of the most heavily traveled times of the year, the release said.

Maj. Patrick Regan, commander of Troop L in Farmingdale, said in a statement that statistics from the 2010 Memorial Day weekend showed 389 passengers died in motor vehicle accidents nationwide, including 231 during nighttime hours. Almost half of those who died were not wearing seat belts.

Overall in 2010, the federal agency said 61 percent of the 10,647 occupants killed in motor vehicle crashes overnight -- between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. -- were not wearing their seat belts, compared with 42 percent during the daytime hours.

"I'm urging everyone to avoid alcohol if driving, make sure everyone is buckled up and to exercise caution driving on our state's roadways this holiday period," Regan said.

Suffolk County police said in a Monday release its officers will take "a zero-tolerance approach with those who violate New York State's seat belt laws. Officers, including those assigned to the Aggressive Driving Task Force, will conduct numerous checkpoints and saturation patrols to raise the public's awareness to the importance of wearing seat belts."

According to a release by Suffolk police, New York State law requires mandatory seat-belt use for all front-seat occupants, ages 8 and older, and all rear-seat passengers ages 8 through 15.

Also, all children younger than 4 years old must be restrained in a federally approved child safety seat. If the child weighs more than 40 pounds, the restraint system must meet size and weight recommendations of the manufacturer.

Children ages 4 through 7 must be properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system, one that meets the child's height and weight recommendations, according to the child restraint manufacturer.

Nassau police said Friday its department and 16 other city and village departments will be a part of the enforcement program.

Other Nassau departments participating include Centre Island, Floral Park, Freeport, Garden City, Glen Cove, Great Neck Estates, Hempstead, Kensington, Lake Success, Long Beach, Lynbrook, Malverne, Old Westbury, Oyster Bay Cove, Port Washington and Rockville Centre.

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