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UPD to enforce seat belt laws

Submitted by Sean McGee
Phone: (907) 474-6215

05/08/06

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Police Department will be among the agencies enforcing a new seat belt law that went into effect May 1, 2006.

Sometimes referred to as the "Click It or Ticket" law, the new law allows for police officers to stop vehicles for a seat belt violation. This is a change from past laws, which allowed officers to cite drivers only after they had been stopped for something else. 

In 2004, 50 of the 92 Alaskans who were killed in traffic crashes were not wearing seat belts. Hundreds more were injured. Some studies estimate that crash victims cost the public $2.6 million annually through programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Police say the dangers of not buckling up are underscored during a rollover crash. Unbelted occupants are often hurled against a fixed object or crushed and killed by the vehicle as it rolls. In 2004, this was all too common: 37 percent of Alaska's highway fatalities involved a rollover.

"For some people, receiving a traffic ticket is the only way to get them to buckle up," said Sean McGee, acting police chief for the UAF Police Department.

Officers will conduct high-visibility enforcement to boost compliance. Drivers will receive a $70 citation if ticketed for a seat belt violation.

"Wearing your seat belt costs you nothing," McGee said. "Not wearing it could cost you everything."

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