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Cops stress nighttime buckling enforcement

LULING — River Region motorists are being asked by law enforcement to keep buckled up as the state readies its Click It or Ticket campaign.

As part of the national seat belt enforcement campaign, law enforcement agencies around the country will be stepping up enforcement Monday through May 31, just ahead of one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

“Every day, unbuckled motorists are losing their lives in motor vehicle crashes,” St. Charles Sheriff Greg Champagne said. “As we approach Memorial Day weekend and the summer vacation season, we want to make sure people are doing the one thing that can save them in a crash, buckling up.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly half of the 21,132 passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2013 were unrestrained.

Overnight from 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m., that number soared to 59 percent of those killed. That’s why one focus of the Click It or Ticket campaign is nighttime enforcement.

Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night.

Almost twice as many males were killed in crashes as compared to females, with lower belt use rates, too. Of the males killed in crashes in 2013, more than half (54 percent) were unrestrained.

For females killed in crashes, 41 percent were not buckled up.

“If you ask the family members of those unrestrained people who were killed in crashes, they’ll tell you — they wish their loved ones had buckled up,” Champagne said. “The bottom line is that seat belts save lives. If these enforcement crackdowns get people’s attention, and get them to buckle up, then we’ve done our job.”