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Missouri, Illinois Step Up Seat Belt Enforcement

Susan DeCourcy, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminsitration, speaks at the launch of the 2019 Click It or Ticket campaign on May 20, 2019.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio
Susan DeCourcy, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speaks at the launch of the 2019 "Click It or Ticket" campaign on May 20.

Police departments in Missouri and Illinois are joining law enforcement across the nation over this Memorial Day weekend to crack down on drivers and passengers who don’t wear their seat belts.

More than 500 people have died on the roads in the two states combined this year, and in more than half of those crashes, the people who died were not wearing a seat belt. The annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign, which runs this year from May 20 until June 2, is intended to help bring that number down.

“No matter what type of vehicle you drive, wearing a seat belt is the best defense against impaired, aggressive and distracted drivers,” said Capt. Stephen Ferrier, the commander of Troop C of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. “No matter how safe you drive, you can’t control other drivers.”

Missouri’s seat belt usage rate of 84% in 2017 lags behind the national average of nearly 90%, Ferrier said, and campaigns like Click It or Ticket are helpful in bringing that percentage up.

In Illinois, this is the first big travel weekend since a new law took effect requiring that children under the age of 2 ride in rear-facing car seats.

“The complexities of installing a child’s car seat can be frustrating,” said Brendan Kelly, the acting director of the Illinois State Police. “It can be a difficult task to overcome for caregivers. We realize that. And that is why there are certified car seat safety technicians scattered throughout the state.”

Installation helpsites in both Missouri and Illinois can be found at www.safekids.org.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

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Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.