Nearly 80 percent of Mississippians wear seat belts, but law enforcement over the next two weeks is going to try to encourage everyone in the state to buckle up.
Agencies in cities large and small and throughout the state will be stepping up enforcement of seat belt and child restraint laws from now until June 5th. In Gulfport, the state’s 2nd largest city, there will be several times more traffic enforcement officers on the street than usual.
"With Memorial Day, there are a lot of people on the roadway," says Sgt. Joshua Bromen is with the traffic division of the Gulfport police department. "And it's just important to remind people, hey, this is the 23rd year of Click It or Ticket. And you can see in the stats that pretty much everyone from zero to 23, they grew up with it, they understand it. But it's the little older group, and sometimes people get in a hurry, they just forget to put it on. But it only takes a second for that accident to occur and impact you for life."
In Pass Christian, one of the smallest cities on the Gulf Coast, Police Chief Tim Hendricks says his officers will also be paying extra attention to safety belt usage.
"In with that, pulling these drivers over to make sure that they are being as safe as possible, make sure they have insurance and some other things that go along with that," he says. "Our overall goal is not to punish these drivers, but it's to reduce accidents, and in particular accidents with injuries and death."
The Mississippi Highway Patrol reported during Memorial Day weekend last year there were 124 traffic crashes on state and federal highways, with two fatalities.