Starting this week, state and local police will step-up enforcement of seatbelt violations as the busy summer travel season begins.
Major Richard C. Smith Jr. is commander of New York State Police Troop B, headquartered in Ray Brook. He says local, county, and state law enforcement officials are joining forces to ensure that motorists are buckled up.
The initiative is part of a high visibility enforcement mobilization that will run through June 5. The enforcement campaign will focus on seatbelt use both during the day and at night.
According to figures compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nighttime vehicle passengers are least likely to wear their seatbelts - and are most likely to die in car accidents.
In 2009, two-thirds of those killed in nighttime crashes were not wearing their seatbelt.
Major Richard Smith with Troop B in Ray Brook says people believe they are less likely to be pulled over at night for seatbelt violations.
"They are putting themselves at tremendous risk," he said, adding that the increased enforcement is aimed at keeping motorists safe.
During the two week enforcement period, troopers will stage more than 100 checkpoints and participate in saturation patrols across the North Country. A similar enforcement effort last year resulted in more than 22,000 traffic tickets for seatbelt violations, including some 1,500 tickets for child safety restraint infractions.
Major Smith says it's unconscionable that parents or guardians would drive with an unstrained child - or with a young child in an adult seatbelt.
"Our troopers have seen too many tragedies and will gladly give a driver a ticket to prevent seeing another," he said.