Police force to focus on seatbelt use

BY FRAIDY REISS Correspondent


JACKSON — Use it — or risk losing life, limb and loot.

That is the message from the Jackson Police Department, which is putting additional patrols on the community’s streets between May 23 and June 5 to spot and ticket motorists who leave their seatbelts hanging.

“I know that wearing seat belts saves lives,” Jackson police Sgt. Russell Scialpi said.

The additional patrols are part of a nationwide Click It or Ticket campaign. Jackson and 240 other municipalities received a grant from the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety to join the 485 Garden State municipalities participating in the campaign, said Gary Myerovich, the division’s public information officer.

“It’s a lot of eyes looking on the roads,” Myerovich said, adding that the amount motorists must pay for a seatbelt ticket, about $46, is “token” compared to the consequences of not wearing a safety belt.

“If you happen to be involved in a crash, the medical costs are astronomical,” he said. “And it’s such an easy thing to do. Just buckle up.”

The goal of Click It or Ticket goal is to increase New Jersey’s seatbelt use rate to 84 percent. The statewide rate has been rising over the last seven years and now stands at 82 percent, according to Jackson police.

New Jersey law requires all people in the front seat to wear a seatbelt.

More than 42,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2003, including 747 people in New Jersey, and more than half of the motor vehicle occupants killed were not wearing a seat belt, according to Jackson police.

Motor vehicle crashes are also the leading cause of death for people between the ages 15 and 34 in the United States, Jackson police said.

Jeffrey Runge, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was quoted in a press release from Jackson police as saying he is “committed to the Click It or Ticket strategy.”

“Tickets are a strong deterrent,” Runge said, “and the results are meaningful: fewer deaths on our roads.”