From May 23 to June 4, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will be teaming up with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and other local and national law enforcement officers and highway safety sponsors to promote their annual ‘Click It or Ticket’ seatbelt enforcement campaign in preparation of Memorial Day weekend. As part of the campaign, highway patrol across the nation will be revving up enforcement and cracking down on motorists who are caught operating a vehicle without a seatbelt.

Officers will be firmly enforcing the campaign throughout its duration but patrol is expected to be at its strongest during the evening and night hours. Statistics suggest that more people neglect wearing their seatbelts at night as opposed to the day according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A nationwide study completed in 2009 revealed that for those who died in evening and night accidents that year, 62 percent were not wearing seat belts at the time of their crash. The study also reported that 11,593 passengers died in motor vehicle crashes between the hours of 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m.

“Many more nighttime traffic deaths can be prevented if more motorists simply start wearing their seatbelts,” Terry Bellamy, DDOT’s acting director, said in a press release. “That’s why DDOT strongly supports nighttime enforcement of seatbelt laws during the Click It or Ticket campaign. Please be safe and buckle up.”

Since 1997, motorists across the District have been buckling up, helping to make Washington, D.C. one of the national leaders in seatbelt usage. In just 13 years, the percentage of seatbelt compliance in the area has risen from 58 percent to 92 percent according to a DDOT press release. “The national average is 85 percent for seatbelt usage rate. The District ,is at 92 percent so compared to the national average and compared to where we were at not too long ago, the usage has gone way up so we’re happy with that,” said DDOT spokesman John Lisle. “But that still means that they’re hundreds if not thousands of people that still drive without their seatbelt and that’s dangerous. So that’s why we do this campaign, to get the word out.”

Penalties for driving without a seatbelt are expected to range from a $50 fine to possibly two points attached to a driving record.

For more information on Click it or Ticket visit www.dcroadrules.com