Law enforcement agencies statewide intensified their enforcement of Wisconsin's mandatory seat belt law Monday as part of the 2013 National Seat Belt Enforcement Mobilization, known as Click It or Ticket, which lasts through June 2.
An estimated 400 law enforcement agencies, including departments from the city and town of Brookfield and village of Elm Grove, will participate in this year's mobilization.
Gus Moulas, assistant chief of the Elm Grove Police Department, said the goal isn't to write more tickets, but to reduce the number of preventable traffic deaths in the state.
"Our officers are always looking for compliance, but during this campaign, we are looking more aggressively," he said. "Safety is paramount."
Lt. John Beth, city of Brookfield police officer, said the department received a $20,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Safety last year. It funds overtime pay for officers to enforce the law through September.
"There are national Click It or Ticket mobilization dates, such as this one, that the department participates in, but this specific grant allows us to continue those efforts outside of those dates," Beth said.
In mid-2009, Wisconsin became one of 33 primary seat belt law enforcement states, which means officers can pull over a driver simply for not wearing his or her seat belt.
"We would hope people choose to wear their seat belt all the time," Moulas said. "Not wearing a seat belt could cause a delay and inconvenience for drivers by being stopped by one of our officers and being issued a $10 citation."
Drivers caught with unrestrained passengers could face a fine, also.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were 105,000 convictions for violating the state's seat belt law in 2012.
Although safety belt use data in Wisconsin shows 79 percent of drivers and passengers buckled up in 2011, that number still lags behind the 84 percent national average for safety belt use, the DOT's website reads.
Beth said that although newer cars may come equipped with air bags and restraint systems, seat belts should still be worn not only to be in compliance with the law, but to keep drivers and passengers safe.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 52 percent of the 21,253 drivers and passengers killed nationwide in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2011 were not wearing their seat belts.
In 2012, there were 535 fatal crashes resulting in 601 deaths in Wisconsin, according to preliminary data from the DOT, up from 515 fatal crashes and 565 deaths in 2011.
Twenty-two of those crashes were in Waukesha County, and 28 people died in those crashes.
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