LINCOLN — Nebraska law enforcement officials hope they can help reverse a dip in seatbelt use by joining the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign during the start of the summer travel season.
The Nebraska State Patrol will join 62 agencies to enforce seatbelt and child restraint use during the campaign, which started Monday and will run through June 2. Federal safety grants totaling $350,000 pay overtime costs related to the enforcement and an additional $250,000 goes to public service announcements.
“We need every driver to wear their seatbelt and not engage in risky behavior behind the wheel,” said Col. David Sankey, superintendent of the patrol.
The Omaha Police Department received $26,000 to participate in the campaign. The increased enforcement will be conducted on various days and times throughout Omaha, police said.
As of Monday, Nebraska had seen 68 fatal accidents in 2013, which means the state is on pace to exceed the total of 212 traffic deaths from last year. In 2011, a total of 181 traffic fatalities occurred, one of the lowest years on record.
Surveys showed about 79 percent of Nebraska motorists reported using seat belts in 2012, which compared to 84 percent in 2011.
A week before Memorial Day, Gov. Dave Heineman urged motorists to buckle up “every trip, every time.”
“The effort to save lives on highways involves all of us,” Heineman said.
Between 2010 and 2012, a total of 170 deaths and 4,000 injuries were attributed to a lack of seat belt use in the state, said Fred Zwonechek, safety administrator at the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety.
A total of 34,000 drivers paid fines for seat belt violations during the same period in Nebraska.
Randy Peters, director of the Nebraska Department of Roads, reminded motorists that road construction season also peaks during the summer, putting both drivers and construction workers at risk. He urged drivers to observe speed limits and use added caution in work zones.
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