The Stark County Sheriff’s Department have relaunched their annual “Click It or Ticket” enforcement campaign on Monday, May 18 and will continue through Sunday, May 31. Deputies hope to bring down the rate of drivers that are not wearing their seatbelt in order to prevent injuries and potential fatalities.

In a press release, the Sheriff’s Office announced that 47% of North Dakota motor vehicle fatalities were due to the lack of seatbelt usage. Stark County Sheriff Corey Lee stated that his department hoped the percentage of fatalities would decline with people putting on their seatbelt.

“As we do every year with this campaign, we’re just going out and ensuring that everyone is being safe and adhering to the laws as they are,” Lee said. “During this campaign we’ll typically fight for that, maybe the officers aren’t always looking for it throughout the year but always around this time of year we are doing so to remind people to be safe and encourage them to use their safety belt.”

While seatbelts are not a primary enforcement, as stated by Lee, officers hope citizens will make the smart decision in putting on their seatbelt. Lee stated officers will pull drivers over for common violations such as speeding, not stopping at a stop sign/traffic light, but will be on the lookout for drivers without their seatbelt.

“It’s a little difficult because, as a Sheriff Office, we support people’s choices and freedoms and if people choose to not wear a seatbelt we certainly understand that,” Lee said. “At the same time, we want to encourage them to do so because they do significantly reduce the injuries and fatalities in traffic accidents.”

While Monday was the first day of the Stark County campaign, the seriousness of the situation presented itself much quicker than Lee and the Sheriff’s Department would have hoped for, validating the potential dangers of not wearing seatbelts.

“[Monday] morning we had a roll over with three people in a truck that weren’t wearing safety belts,” Lee said. “They bounced off each other and one flew out the sunroof. Those are all things that don’t happen if you’re buckled in.”

As seen throughout the years by officers, people often inform others about the campaign and officers becoming more serious about seatbelt usage. Drivers will commonly notify others about potential hotspots and target areas, but Lee stated he does not mind the notifications.

“This time of year people chatter and inform other drivers about what is going on which is a good thing to promote safety,” he said. “We certainly don’t have an issue with that. I hope people know that we’re out there and know what we’re doing, it’ll encourage them to make good choices and I’d much rather have someone get caught wearing their seatbelt than not.”