BANGOR, Maine — The Old Town and Veazie police departments announced Wednesday that they will be participating in this year’s National Seat Belt Enforcement campaign, from May 19 through June 1.
The seat belt campaigns are funded through grants that enable police departments to beef up patrols at different times during the day and night to ensure motorists are complying with the the state’s seat belt law.
Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In 2012, national statistics showed that 21,667 occupants of passenger cars, trucks, vans and SUVs were killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide, and 48 percent of them were not wearing seat belts.
National data also indicates that more vehicle deaths occur at night. In 2012, 61 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed from 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m. were not wearing seat belts.
The data also shows that teens and young adults are at higher risk. Among young adults age 18 to 34 who were killed in passenger vehicle crashes, 56 percent were not buckled up — the highest percentage of any age group. The number jumps to 59 percent when only males in this age group are included.
In 2012, seat belts saved about 12,200 people from dying nationwide, statistics showed. The data also revealed that if all unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants age 5 and up who died in fatal crashes had worn seat belts, more than 3,000 more lives could have been saved.
There were 164 traffic fatalities in Maine in 2012. Of those, 124 involved passenger vehicles. Of those involved in passenger vehicle fatalities, 60 percent were not wearing seat belts.
In Maine, fines for not wearing a seat belt range from $70 for a first offense to $310 for a third offense.