will be one of the departments to participate in the 2012 “Click it or Ticket” seat belt mobilization that will take place in New Jersey between May 21 and June 3, stepping up patrols as well as conducting seat belt check points to enforce state seat belt laws for those in both the front seat and back seat of a vehicle.
Click it or Ticket also will be in effect in neighboring communities, such as Bernardsville and Far Hills, said chiefs in those departments.
The Click it or Ticket program was adopted in 2003, and Bernards Township police have participated in previous years, said township Lt. Ted Reese. The program is described as a zero tolerance approach to seat belt enforcement during the two-week period, he said.
The fine for not wearing a seat belt is $46, the same for either a front-seat or rear-seat violation, Reese said.
The statewide program also is described as a way to "raise public awareness to one of the greatest threats to us all, death or serious injury as a result of a traffic crash," according to the announcement by township police.
"Wearing a seatbelt is the one single thing a driver can do to reduce the risk of injury and death when involved in a collision," said Bernardsville Police Chief Kevin Valentine.
Reese said the state’s primary seat belt law requires all motorists and passengers in the front seat to wear a seat belt. This is a primary violation and the driver can be pulled over if either the driver or front seat passenger is observed not wearing a seat belt, according to the police announcement.
Seat belts required in back seats, too
However, on Jan. 18, 2010, state legislation was signed into law requiring all motor vehicle occupants to use seat belts regardless of their seating position in a vehicle. This new law also allows the police to issue a summons to back seat passengers that are not wearing seat belts, the announcement said.
"Instilling seat belt use is an important life safety issue and should become a normal reaction when you get into a vehicle," observed Far Hills Chief Kenneth Hartmann, where police also will participate in statewide initiative during the same time period.
"As New Jersey becomes more and more congested, traffic increases and therefore the odds are against you when traveling the roads," Hartman said. "While many consider themselves excellent drivers and travel safely, you simply do not have control of the hundreds upon hundreds of other drivers around you.
Wearing your seatbelt can save you from serious injury or even death."
Hartman added that the seat belt program brings more officers out on patrol or at check points on local streets.
Therefore, he noted, other violations, some minor in nature, and other more serious, also are discovered during the annual program. "Arrests do occur for the more serious violations, subjects are found intoxicated and even warrant arrests are made," the Far Hills chief said.
Valentine said Bernardsville has been participating in the program for a few years, and will continue to do so even though Bernardsville did not this year receive a grant to deploy extra patrols.
However, for those drivers within Bernardsville's borders, "Our patrols have been instructed to be alert to seat belt violations and take the appropriate action," Valentine said. "In past years local seatbelt surveys have indicated the program is successful in increasing seatbelt compliance."
Police can assist with infant or child car seat installation
During the campaign, police are issuing a reminder that children up to age eight or 80 pounds must ride in a safety or booster seat in the rear of the vehicle.
If there is no rear seat, the child must sit in the front passenger seat secured by a child safety seat or booster seat, Bernards Township police said in the reminder. Children under age eight who weigh more than 80 pounds must wear a seat belt while seated anywhere in the vehicle.
Township police have officers who are certified car seat installers available to assist township residents with car seat installation on an appointment basis, Reese said.