If for some reason you don’t wear a seatbelt when driving, or have a habit of forgetting to buckle up, you might want to change that habit.

Law enforcement officials are always watching for seatbelt violations, but from the May 19 through June 1 period they will be watching extra close.

The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office has established those dates as the “Click It or Ticket” mobilization for 2008.

Simply put, it means if you’re caught not wearing a seatbelt or properly using the child restraints for young kids, you will receive a ticket.

Nationally, traffic safety officials say the Click It or Ticket program is the most successful seat belt enforcement campaign ever, helping create a national seat belt usage rate of 82 percent.

In Oklahoma, the state highway patrol will be out in extra numbers over that time period, said Steve Nightengale with the OHP.

“The OHP will have special shifts for troopers and put added personnel on the highways at that time,” he said, adding that the troopers will be working the highways inside the city limits as well.

“We do this every year to make people aware that we’re out in force,” Nightengale said. “We’re looking for seatbelt violations and child restraint violations.”

Woodward city and county law enforcement officers are also taking part in the program.

“With 18 percent of all Americans failing to buckle up regularly, it’s clear that far too many people still don’t take seatbelt laws seriously,” said Woodward Police Lt. Derek Ford in a news release from the Click It or Ticket organizers.

Capt. Kevin Mitchell of the Woodward County Sheriff’s office said “seat belts have been proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury in a crash by 45 percent for front-seat passenger vehicle occupants and 60 percent in pick trucks, SUVs and minivans.”

Officers will be out day and night looking for violators.

According to numbers provided by the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, in 2006 there were 765 fatalities on Oklahoma highways.

Of the fatality victims in passenger vehicles-pickups, 54 percent were not using a safety belt or child restraint. The number for drivers of those vehicles was 55 percent and 22 percent of victims age five and under were not in child restraints.

Nationwide in 2006, 15,046 passenger vehicle occupants were killed between the nighttime hours of 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. and 64 percent of those victims were not wearing seatbelts.

The national numbers show young men are among those less likely to buckle up. In 2006, 73 percent of male passenger vehicle occupants 18 to 34 who were killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts.

Officials said high-visibility programs like Click It or Ticket are effective in getting people to wear seat belts.

“Wearing your seat belt is easy and it costs you nothing,” said Ford. “Not wearing it might cost you a ticket, or worse - your life.”

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