State launches 2022 ‘Click It or Ticket’ seat belt campaign

TRENTON, NJ — As fatal crashes continue to climb in New Jersey, acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Highway Traffic Safety announced the start of New Jersey’s annual “Click it or Ticket” enforcement mobilization targeting drivers and passengers who don’t buckle up. This year, a record 145 law enforcement agencies have received HTS grants totaling more than $890,000 to help pay for enforcement initiatives during the two-week campaign.

Beginning May 23, state, county and local police departments throughout New Jersey joined law enforcement agencies across the country in carrying out the national enforcement mobilization targeting unbuckled drivers and passengers. The campaign will run through June 5, but police will continue to ticket unbelted motor vehicle occupants year-round.

In Essex County, Belleville received $8,750, Bloomfield received $8,750, East Orange received $14,000, Livingston received $7,000, Maplewood received $7,000, Montclair received $10,500, Nutley received $7,000, Orange received $8,750 and South Orange received $7,000.

Data tracked by the New Jersey State Police shows that 2021 was the deadliest on New Jersey roadways in more than a decade, and this year is shaping up to be even worse for fatal crashes and highway deaths.

“Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to prevent death and serious injury in a car crash,” Platkin said. “Educating the public on the importance of buckling up is critical to our ongoing efforts to reverse the alarming uptick in fatal crashes and prevent the senseless loss of lives on New Jersey roadways.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently reported that 42,915 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2021 — the most since 2005 and an average of 117 deaths every day. Crash deaths rose by 10.5 percent in 2021 compared to the year before, making it the largest annual percentage increase in the nearly five-decade history of NHTSA’ Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

In New Jersey, the numbers paint an equally grim picture. Fatal crashes in the Garden State climbed to 672 last year — 21 percent higher than the year before — and the number of lives lost in those crashes rose nearly 20 percent to 702. Taken together, the number of crashes and deaths are the highest recorded in New Jersey since 2007. Preliminary year-to-date data show that crashes and fatalities are up more than 15 percent from May 22, 2021, putting the state on track for another sharp increase by year’s end.

“The instant you buckle up, you cut your risk of a fatal injury in a crash nearly in half. Yet preliminary data shows that 38 percent of all motor vehicle occupants killed in crashes last year were not wearing their seat belts — the vast majority of them drivers. That has to change,” said Eric Heitmann, director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “Our law enforcement officers see firsthand the consequences of not buckling up. ‘Click It or Ticket’ is their chance to motivate people to buckle up before it’s too late. If you aren’t wearing your seat belt during this enforcement campaign, expect to be pulled over and ticketed.”