GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Seat belts can save lives, and the Michigan State Police is reminding drivers to "click it or ticket."

The 2019 National Seat Belt Enforcement Mobilization takes place from May 20 to June 2, and law enforcement is cracking down on motorists not wearing their seat belts. A fine could cost up to $65 for simply not buckling up behind the wheel.

According to the MSP website, 48% of the 35,092 people killed in motor vehicle crashes the U.S. were not wearing seat belts. In 2015, seat belts saved an estimated 13,941 lives and could have saved an additional 2,814 people if they had been wearing seat belts.

Since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started recording data in 1975, seat belts have saved over 344,000 lives. However, if everyone had been wearing a seat belt, over 381,000 additional lives could have been saved.

“Three out of four people ejected from a vehicle in a crash will die,” said Michael L. Prince, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. “Wearing a seat belt is the simplest thing you can do to reduce injuries and save lives. Buckle up for the ones who will miss you -- every trip, every time.”

MSP says it's vital to buckle up for every ride, whether you're driving or are a passenger. They suggest following these guidelines when you buckle up:

  • The lap belt and shoulder belt are secured across the hips and shoulder, which are more able to withstand crash forces than other parts of your body.
  • Place the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and away from your neck.
  • The lap belt rests across your hips, not your stomach.
  • NEVER put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm.

MSP says the seat belt usage rate in Michigan stands at 93.4 percent. The national seat belt use rate in 2018 was 89.6 percent.

Last Memorial Day, 19 people died in traffic crashes over the holiday period, almost double the number in 2017.

Michigan law requires drivers, front seat passengers and passengers 15 and younger in any seating position to be buckled up. Children must be in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or are 4 feet, 9 inches tall. Children under 4 years old must be in the back seat.

For more information about seat belts, visit the NHTSA website.

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