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Buckle up or be prepared for a ticket.

Rhode Island State Police are gearing up for participation in the annual Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign, with extra patrols on the roads focused on enforcing the state's seatbelt laws. The effort is part of a nationwide campaign that began Monday and will continue through June 2.

“We always encourage motorists to buckle up and we are out there enforcing the state’s seat belt and child restraint laws each and every day,” said Col. James M. Manni, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and director of the Department of Public Safety. “We will be adding extra patrols that will specifically focus on enforcement of these laws during the Click It or Ticket campaign.”

The annual campaign, hosted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in partnership with law enforcement from across the U.S., is held in the month before the summer travel season as a way of encouraging safe travel practices. Enforcement is funded through federal grants, officials said.

According to NHTSA data, those who wear seat belts or are properly secured in child safety seats are 50 percent less likely to get killed or seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash. From 1975 through 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that seat belts have saved an estimate 374,196 lives.

NHTSA also reports that nearly half of the 37,133 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017 were not wearing seat belts at the time.

Manni said in a press release that the goal of the program isn't to issue tickets, but rather to gain compliance of state laws.Those who do not follow the law will face the consequences, however.

Under Rhode Island laws, all drivers and passengers must wear seatbelts and children must be secured in an approved infant or child seat until at least age 8, unless the child is at least 57 inches tall and/or weighs at least 80 pounds. The fine for failure to wear a seat belt is $40 and the fine for failure to use a child restraint is $85.

“Wearing a seat belt is not only required by law, but it also is the single best way to protect yourself and your passengers in the event of a crash,” Colonel Manni said. “So remember to buckle up every time you get into your vehicle — and make sure your passengers buckle up, too.”

jvallee@thewesterlysun.com

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