Helena, MT--- Memorial weekend is the traditional kick-off of the summer travel season. In the weeks leading up to this holiday, extra patrols from the Helena Police Department will be on the road with an increased focus on seat belt use.
Local officers and deputies are joining the Montana Highway Patrol and law enforcement agencies nation-wide to draw attention to seat belt use during the annual Click It or Ticket campaign.
“This is more about saving lives than writing tickets,” said Assistant Chief Hagen. “But if you get pulled-over and are not wearing a seat belt, count on getting a ticket.”
As of May 9th there have been 55 crash fatalities so far in 2016. Preliminary data indicate that approximately 65% were not wearing seatbelts. In 2015, 70% of the 172 fatalities in automobiles were unbuckled.
“In a crash, the safest place to be is buckled in,” said Hagen.
The months of May through August are when the highest number of traffic fatalities occurs in Montana. Crashes in that four-month period have averaged 43 percent of all fatal crashes for the year, based on totals from 2005 through 2015.
“We appreciate officers putting in overtime to promote the use of seat belts,” said Mike Tooley, director of the Montana Department of Transportation. “Wearing a seatbelt is such a basic safety strategy, but there are still folks who need a reminder from these officers that it is also the law.”
Extra traffic safety patrols are funded by the Montana Department of Transportation. This and other enforcement and education campaigns are combined under Vision Zero, the shared vision for zero deaths and zero serious injuries on Montana roadways.