Police deem seat belt campaign successful

Monmouth, Ocean cops
wrote thousands of tickets
during two-week programCorrespondent

By adam riback

Police deem seat belt
campaign successful
Monmouth, Ocean cops
wrote thousands of tickets
during two-week program

Citizens in Monmouth and Ocean counties better feel the smooth leather of a seat belt across their lap when they are in a car or they may be on their way to paying a fine.

Local police believe the "Click It or Ticket" program was a major success over the two-week period from May 19 to June 1 when 2,304 seat belt citations were issued in Monmouth County. The 29 towns in Monmouth County that participated also issued 28 child restraint citations, 822 warnings and 2,713 other citations.

Ocean County law enforcement authorities also got the message through to citizens while giving out 1,722 seat belt violation tickets, 14 child restraint tickets, 151 warnings and 2,066 other citations.

A total of 69 law enforcement agencies in New Jersey were awarded grants for their participation in the "Click It or Ticket" seat belt enforcement campaign.

According to Bob Gaydosh, spokesman for the Division of Highway Traffic Safety in the State Department of Law and Public Safety, area officers issued the following:

• Colts Neck police issued eight seat belt citations, one child restraint citation, five written warnings and 108 other citations.

• Freehold Borough police issued 167 seat belt citations and 31 other citations.

• Freehold Township placed 11th out of the 69 towns that received grants. Freehold Township was awarded a $3,600 grant and issued 331 seat belt citations, one child restraint citation and 448 written warnings.

• Howell police wrote 17 seat belt citations, four child restraint citations, 10 written warnings and 146 other citations.

• Jackson was among the towns that received a $3,600 grant. Police officers issued a total of 165 seat belt citations, five child restraint citations and 280 other citations, including six drunk driving violations.

• Lakewood issued 26 seat belt citations and one written warning.

• Manalapan was also awarded a grant of $3,600 for its participation in the nationwide program. The town’s police officers issued 102 seat belt citations and 48 other citations.

• Marlboro was also awarded a grant of $3,600. Police issued 141 seat belt citations, three child restraint citations, 30 written warnings and 402 other citations.

These statistics are based on the actions of all officers in the police department, not just the officers who were specifically participating in the "Click It or Ticket" program.

Englishtown did not participate in the "Click It or Ticket" program. Information regarding Plumsted’s participation in the program was not available from that department on Aug. 1.

Capt. David Newman of the Jackson Police Department was in charge of the "Click It or Ticket" program in his community.

"It was very successful," Newman said of the program in Jackson. "I think our guys demonstrated the police department’s commitment to saving lives. Statewide it was an impressive campaign."

Newman said he believes the impact on citizens was great.

"Those persons who happened to en­counter one of our police officers during the campaign got the message. It was a good effort on the entire department’s part. They showed commitment to ensure safety," he said.

In Jackson a regular seat belt violation can cost the violator $42 and a child re­straint violation can cost up to $44.

Sgt. Joseph Lenge, supervisor of the Marlboro Police Department’s traffic safety bureau, complimented his officers for a for a job well done.

"I’m very satisfied with our depart­ment," he said, adding that he believes the program was a success. "It had an affect on everybody that traveled through our town. I feel my officers did an excellent job with the program."

Marlboro’s fine for a seat belt violation is $42.

From May 19 through June 1 there were 22,941 seat belt tickets issued statewide.

Drivers and front-seat passengers must wear seat belts, according to state law. A passenger who is at least 8 years old, but less than 18 years old, must wear a seat belt even when riding in the back seat of a car. The driver is responsible for ensuring that all passengers under age 18 are safely secured in the vehicle, according to state law. State law also says that any child un­der the age of 8 or a person under 80 pounds must ride in the back seat of the vehicle in a safety seat or a booster seat.

A survey done by the state determined that 81.2 percent of the public uses seat belts, which is up 0.7 percent from last year.

According to state police, before 2000, 65 percent of New Jersey drivers wore seat belts. National statistics state that wearing a seat belt can reduce the chance of injury in a motor vehicle accident by 50 percent, and reduce the chance of death by 45 percent.

Traffic Bureau Chief Thomas Dreher said that more than 42,000 people have been killed on U.S. highways in the past year, including 750 on New Jersey roads.

Greater Media Newspapers staff writer Maura Dowgin and correspondent Erin Romanski contributed to this story.