‘Click It or Ticket’ crackdown encourages drivers, passengers to wear seat belts

TRENTON, NJ — As New Jersey begins to reopen ahead of the busy summer travel season, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Highway Traffic Safety announced the upcoming launch of a statewide seat belt enforcement campaign aimed at promoting safe travels on New Jersey roadways.

Starting Monday, May 24, and running through June 6, state, county and local police departments throughout New Jersey will join law enforcement agencies across the country in the 2021 “Click It or Ticket” campaign, a national enforcement mobilization targeting unbuckled drivers and passengers.

“Seat belts have been proven to be one of the best ways to prevent death and serious injury in a crash. Yet statistics show that many people still don’t buckle up,” Grewal said. “The Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign is aimed at educating the public on the importance of abiding by seat belt laws. It could literally save your life.”

In 2019, nearly half of the 22,215 passenger-vehicle occupants killed in crashes nationwide were not wearing seat belts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In New Jersey that year, 108 of the 260 passenger-vehicle occupants who were killed were unrestrained, NHTSA reports. 

Across the campaign, participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a “no-excuses” approach to seat belt enforcement, writing citations throughout the day and with a particular focus on nighttime enforcement. In New Jersey, the maximum penalty for a seat belt violation is $46. 

“Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent and critical injury by 50 percent,” said Eric Heitmann, director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “By working together to enforce New Jersey’s seat belt laws during the Click It or Ticket campaign, participating law enforcement agencies are promoting safe habits that will help reach our goal of zero fatalities on New Jersey roadways. If enforcement wakes people up to the dangers of unrestrained driving, we’ll consider our mission to be a success.”

To enhance law enforcement efforts during the Click It or Ticket campaign, the division is providing a total of $810,120 in grant funding to 134 agencies throughout the state. The money helps agencies pay for additional officers on the road, seat belt checkpoints and other enforcement initiatives during the campaign. All police departments in New Jersey are invited to support the campaign, whether they receive grant funding or not. 

In Essex County, Bloomfield received $7,500, East Orange received $12,000, Irvington received $12,000, Livingston received $6,000, Maplewood received $6,000, Montclair received $12,000, Newark received $24,000, Nutley received $6,000, Orange received $7,500 and West Orange received $6,000.

The Click It or Ticket campaign was not held in New Jersey last year due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the most recent campaign, which ran from April 1 through April 21, 2019, 341 police agencies — 70 percent of all agencies statewide — participated in the enforcement effort. In addition to issuing a total 14,548 seat belt citations, those agencies wrote 5,670 speeding citations, and made 858 impaired driving arrests.

To learn more about the Click It or Ticket mobilization, visit www.nhtsa.gov/ciot.