As fatal crashes continue to climb in New Jersey, Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Highway Traffic Safety (HTS) announced the start of New Jersey’s annual “Click it or Ticket” enforcement mobilization targeting drivers and passengers who don’t buckle up.
This year, a record 145 law enforcement agencies have received HTS grants totaling more than $890,000 to help pay for enforcement initiatives during the two-week campaign.
From Monday, May 23, state, county and local police departments throughout Jersey will join law enforcement agencies across the country in carrying out the national enforcement mobilization targeting unbuckled drivers and passengers.
The campaign runs through June 5.
The launch of the campaign comes as New Jersey — along with states across the nation — experience alarming rises in fatal crashes and traffic deaths. Data tracked by the New Jersey State Police shows 2021 was the deadliest on New Jersey roadways in more than a decade, and this year is shaping up to be even worse for fatal crashes and highway deaths.
“Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to prevent death and serious injury in a car crash,” Platkin said. “Educating the public on the importance of buckling up is critical to our ongoing efforts to reverse the alarming uptick in fatal crashes and prevent the senseless loss of lives on New Jersey roadways.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just last week reported 42,915 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2021 — the most since 2005 and an average of 117 deaths a day.
Crash deaths rose by 10.5% in 2021 compared to the year before, making it the largest annual percentage increase in the nearly five-decade history of NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
In New Jersey, the numbers paint an equally grim picture. Fatal crashes here climbed to 672 last year — 21% higher than the year before — and the number of lives lost in those crashes rose nearly 20% to 702.
Together, the number of crashes and deaths are the highest recorded in New Jersey since 2007.
Preliminary year-to-date data shows crashes and fatalities are up more than 15% from May 22, 2021, putting the state on track for another sharp increase by year’s end.
As part of the state’s ongoing efforts to reverse this troubling trend, HTS made an additional 10% in grant funding available to bolster statewide participation in the 2022 Click It or Ticket campaign. The increase in funding was made possible through additional federal highway safety funding states received to combat the rise in traffic fatalities. All Jersey police departments are invited to support the campaign, regardless of whether they receive grant funding.
“The instant you buckle up, you cut your risk of a fatal injury in a crash nearly in half. Yet preliminary data shows that 38% of all motor vehicle occupants killed in crashes last year were not wearing their seatbelts — the vast majority of them drivers. That has to change,” Eric Heitmann, director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, said. “Our law enforcement officers see firsthand the consequences of not buckling up. Click It or Ticket is their chance to motivate people to buckle up before it’s too late. If you aren’t wearing your seatbelt during this enforcement campaign, expect to be pulled over and ticketed.”
Across the campaign, participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a “no-excuses” approach to seat belt enforcement, writing citations throughout the day and with a particular focus on nighttime enforcement.
In Jersey, the maximum penalty for a seat belt violation is $46.
In last year’s campaign, agencies participating in the Click It or Ticket campaign issued 9,755 seatbelt citations statewide, wrote 3,936 speeding tickets and made 555 impaired driving arrests.
This year, HTS will spend more than $20 million on programs and initiatives to enhance traffic safety and improve driver behaviors, including law enforcement training, public outreach and education, and grant funding for statewide mobilizations to enforce laws on impaired driving, distracted driving and seatbelt usage.
To learn more about the Click It or Ticket mobilization, visit www.nhtsa.gov/ciot
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.