Local law enforcement agencies participating in Click It or Ticket campaign
Local law enforcement helped kick off the state-wide Click It or Ticket campaign Tuesday by reminding motorists that wearing a seat belt is the law.
The Cape Coral Police Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Office have joined other agencies across Florida to participate in the initiative, which runs through March 31. The goals are public education and enforcement.
“We’re very familiar with the fact that seat belts save lives,” Larry King, a spokesman for the LCSO, said.
The push behind the campaign is to reduce the number of traffic fatalities and serious injures that result from occupants not wearing seat belts in crashes. Educating the public may reduce the risk of serious injury or death.
According to statistics from the Florida Highway Patrol, there were 2,563 fatalities in 2009. Seat belts were used in about 87 percent of those cases.
“Our emphasis is on reducing injures and traffic fatalities, which is always the focus of all of our traffic campaigns, but especially this one,” King said.
The philosophy on enforcement is different for this year’s campaign.
“Education is our primary goal this year,” Capt. Mike Torregrossa, with the Cape police, said in a prepared statement.
Officers and sheriff’s deputies will be handing out warnings and citations to unbelted motorists. Law enforcement is trying to get out the message about state law on seat belt usage, that it is now a primary violation, officials said.
“We can stop them for just that infraction,” King said.
From 2009 to 2010, FHP handed out 140,443 total citations for seat belt and child restraint violations. The year before, that figure totaled 77,506.
Officials reiterated that the campaign is about education, not tickets.
Cape officers were reminded that enforcement includes written warnings, and that choosing to give a warning helps educate the public and could save a life. King said deputies are cognizant of the economy, gas prices and such.
“We’re writing more warnings right now than we are citations,” he said.