Monday, May 24th saw the beginning of an enforcement crackdown on seat belt laws throughout New Jersey, as part of a nationwide campaign to encourage consistent use of this basic safety device. The state’s Division of Highway Traffic Safety offered grants to 134 state, county, and local law enforcement agencies to fund enforcement initiatives including seat belt checkpoints as part of the “Click It or Ticket” campaign. The seat belt enforcement campaign is scheduled to run through June 6th, and is set to include a “Border to Border” event in conjunction with New York and Pennsylvania law enforcement to create seat belt checkpoints on state lines.
Statistical data underscores the need for an enforcement push on seat belt usage. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, 22,215 occupants of passenger vehicles were killed in traffic accidents nationwide, and nearly half of those killed were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. In New Jersey alone, 108 of the 260 fatalities among passenger vehicle occupants in that time frame were not wearing seat belts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about 1 in 7 people resist using seat belts – by no means an insignificant number, but highly disproportional to the number of crash fatalities experienced by vehicle occupants who do not wear seat belts. It’s clear that seat belts save lives, when people can be convinced to use them consistently. In addition, seat belts help reduce the severity of injury that the wearer may experience in the event of a crash. As Eric Heitmann, Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, explained, “Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent, and critical injury by 50 percent.”
Fatalities among those not wearing seat belts increased even further at night, according to statistical data, with the percentage of crash deaths among the non-belted increasing to 55 percent between the hours of 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. While the departments participating in the enforcement crackdown will continue to issue citations at all hours of the day, particular enforcement attention will be paid to nighttime violations.
New Jersey drivers and passengers who neglect to fasten their seat belt may face a maximum penalty of $46 for a seat belt violation, which state officials hope will serve as a pointed reminder of the necessity of complying with safety laws and encourage safe habits on the road. In total, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office has said that the 134 agencies participating in the program will split $810,120 in grant funding for this enforcement initiative, though departments which did not receive funding are likewise welcome to participate in the seat belt enforcement push. The law enforcement agencies receiving grant funding to participate in the enforcement program include the following:
Atlantic County: Absecon, Brigantine, Egg Harbor City, Galloway, Hamilton Township, Hammonton, Longport, Mullica, Northfield, Pleasantville
Bergen County: Bogota, Cliffside Park, East Rutherford, Elmwood Park, Fair Lawn, Fairview, Fort Lee, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Garfield, Hackensack, Lyndhurst, Northvale, Paramus
Burlington County: Bordentown Township, Burlington City, Burlington Township, Mount Laurel, Willingboro
Camden County: Camden County Metro, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Winslow
Cape May County: Sea Isle City, Wildwood, Wildwood Crest
Cumberland County: Millville, Vineland
Essex County: Bloomfield, East Orange, Irvington, Livingston, Maplewood, Montclair, Newark, Nutley, Orange, West Orange
Gloucester County: Clayton, East Greenwich, Glassboro, Greenwich, Harrison, Logan, Mantua, Monroe Township, Pitman, Rowan University, Washington Township, West Deptford, Westville, Woodbury Heights
Hudson County: Bayonne, Hoboken, Kearny, North Bergen, Secaucus, Union City, West New York
Hunterdon County: Clinton Borough, Clinton Township, Franklin, Frenchtown, Holland, Raritan, Tewksbury, West Amwell
Mercer County: Ewing, Hamilton, Lawrence, West Windsor
Middlesex County: Carteret, Metuchen, Monroe, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Old Bridge, Piscataway, Plainsboro, Sayreville, South Brunswick
Monmouth County: Asbury Park, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Manalapan, Marlboro, Middletown
Morris County: Boonton Township, Dover, Mount Arlington, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Rockaway Borough
Ocean County: Barnaget, Berkeley Township, Brick Township, Jackson, Ocean County Sheriff, Ocean Township, Seaside Heights
Passaic County: Passaic, Paterson, West Milford
Somerset County: Bernards, Branchburg, Bridgewater, Hillsborough, Manville, Montgomery, North Plainfield, Peapack Gladstone, Raritan, Somerset County Sheriff, South Bound Brook, Warren
Union County: Berkeley Heights, Cranford, Elizabeth, Hillside, Linden, Plainfield, Rahway, Roselle, Union, Westfield
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