Laurel County Sheriff John Root and his office are joining law enforcement agencies across the nation for the annual Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement mobilization (May 20 - June 3) through Memorial Day weekend.

The campaign helps bolster seat belt enforcement with traffic safety checkpoints and saturation patrols.

"Our law enforcement personnel see firsthand severe injuries or loss of life when people do not buckle up," said Root. "It's such a simple act, and hope it becomes the automatic next step for all motorists after sitting down in a vehicle."

"If the enforcement crackdown wakes people up to the dangers of unrestrained driving and gets them to buckle up, we'll consider it a success."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when worn correctly, seat belts are proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat occupants by 45 percent and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans.

According to NHTSA, motorists are 75 percent less likely to be killed in a rollover crash if buckled up.

Because nighttime passenger vehicle occupants are among those least likely to buckle up and most likely to die in crashes when unrestrained, nighttime enforcement has become a priority of the Click It or Ticket mobilization.

Kentucky's seat belt usage rate increased with the passage of the primary law from 67.2 percent in 2006 to 89.9 percent in 2018.

While the seat belt usage rate increased last year, it is no coincidence that our roadway fatalities decreased from 782 in 2017 to 725 in 2018.

Even though more people are buckling up, Kentucky experiences far too many deaths which could be avoided with the simple use of a seatbelt.

Of the 725 highway fatalities last year in Kentucky, 52.8 percent were not wearing a seat belt.

Drivers are responsible for making sure everyone in the vehicle is buckled up and will be fined for each person that is not wearing a seat belt.

According to the Laurel County Sheriff's Office, Click It or Ticket isn't about the citations; it's about increased awareness and saving lives.

Police officers see motorists every day who aren't restrained and who are severely injured or killed because of it. Officers would rather write them a ticket than make a death notification to their family.

According to NHTSA, car crashes are a leading cause of death for children, so make sure they are properly restrained in a child seat or booster seat.

Kentucky has a particularly low seat belt usage rate for pickup trucks. Pickup truck drivers and passengers have an 80.6 percent usage rate, compared to passenger car occupants with a 92.1 percent usage rate.

"Please, help us spread this life-saving message before one more friend or family member is killed as a result of this senseless inaction," said Root. "Seat belts save lives, and everyone--front seat and back, child and adult--needs to remember to buckle up…every trip, every time."

React to this story: