Police departments across the region have announced their participation in the national "Click It or Ticket" enforcement program this holiday season.
The effort, running from Dec. 3 to Dec. 16, includes spot checks in certain towns and around-the-clock enforcement by all towns. It's also a year-round enforcement issue, said New London Deputy Chief Peter Reichard in a news release announcing the effort.
"Those who choose not to wear a seat belt will feel the heat from our officers who will be out cracking down on Click It or Ticket violators," Reichard said. "Motorists should buckle up every time they go out, both day and night. Our officers are prepared to ticket anyone not buckled up … no warnings and no excuses."
Groton Town police officers will be focusing on seat belt/child restraint system compliance and distracted driving, including texting while driving and failure to use hands-free devices while speaking on a cellphone. Spot checks for these violations will occur on Dec. 5, 8 and 15.
"On average 88.5 percent of our residents comply with this lifesaving law," Lt. Jeffrey W. Scribner said in a news release. "We are warning the remaining 11.5 percent that the fine for not wearing a seat belt will cost $92 per offense."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 130,854 motorists were killed in car crashes between 2006 and 2010, and about 54 percent of them were unrestrained. More of those deaths occurred during the nighttime. Male and younger motorists are more at risk of not wearing seat belts, statistics show. It is estimated that 12,546 lives were saved by seat belts nationwide in 2010.
"While those may sound like just statistics, those of us at the Norwich Police Department know from personal experience that those numbers are the actual faces of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles and friends right here in southeastern Connecticut," said Chief Louis J. Fusaro Sr., whose department will also participate in the enforcement campaign. "We tell too many families about losses that may have been prevented had a loved one only worn a seat belt."
Waterford, East Lyme and Stonington police departments are also participating.