Law enforcement to step up 'Click It or Ticket'

More than 500 law enforcement agencies will join state police in May to make sure drivers and riders buckle up. The Click it or Ticket mobilization coincides with the 5th anniversary of the primary seatbelt law in Illinois.

"Safety belt compliance has jumped 14 percent from 76.2 percent in 2003 to 90.1 percent in 2007," said IDOT Chief of Staff Clayton Harris.

"To put that in perspective, when I passed the seatbelt law in 1984, there were 15 percent of people wearing their seatbelt, and now, there are only about 10 percent who are not," said Ill.Sen. John Cullerton, who represents Chicago.

To keep things moving in that direction, police will step up enforcements and zero tolerance for seatbelt violations from between May 19 and June 1. There will be numerous seatbelt enforcement zones, and the state police motorcycle patrol will be concentrated in the Chicago area over the next four days.

The latest Click it or Ticket safety blitz will pay special attention to seatbelt violators at night, when more traffic fatalities occur as fewer people buckle up.

"In 2006, 56 percent of all fatal crashes in Illinois occurred between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.," said Chicago Police Deputy Supt. Beatrice Cuello.

Safety experts say buckling up can increase the chances of surviving a crash by 45 percent.

Emma Norise knows the value of wearing a safety belt first hand. She was in stop-and-go traffic when she saw a semi approaching at a high rate of speed in her rear view mirror.

"I just started praying, and bam! He hit the back of my car. I was so grateful I had my seatbelt on because if I hadn't I would have gone through the windshield," Norise said.

Illinois has the 12th highest seatbelt usage rate in the country. Officials hope the latest seatbelt crackdown will improve that standing.

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