FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Beginning on Monday, May 23, law enforcement will have patrols across Arkansas watching closely for motorists not using their seat belts.

According to a press release from the City of Fort Smith, the stepped-up enforcement operation will continue through June 5 as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Click It or Ticket defined enforcement action plan, which spans the Memorial Day holiday period.

The Fort Smith Police Department reminds drivers and their passengers that the regular practice of using seat belts is a proven lifesaver.

“The objective is to change the ways of so many drivers and passengers who never use their seat belts,” said FSPD Special Operations Lt. Steven Creek. “We want the act of buckling up to become instinctive for everyone anytime they get in a car or truck to travel.”

As a part of the Click It or Ticket plan for 2022, NHTSA has asked authorities in every state to participate in the kickoff event, Border to Border (B2B), a 4-hour national seat belt awareness event coordinated by participating state highway safety offices and their respective law enforcement liaisons scheduled for May 23. The B2B program is intended to increase law enforcement participation by coordinating highly visible seat belt enforcement involving drivers at heavily traveled, highly visible, state border locations, such as Fort Smith.

“During the Click It or Ticket campaign, we’ll be working with our fellow law enforcement officers across local and state lines to ensure the message is getting out to drivers and passengers,” Lt. Creek said. “Buckling up is the simplest thing you can do to limit injury or save your life in a crash, and it’s the law.”

According to NHTSA statistics from 2020, there were 10,893 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States. More than twice the number of males died in crashes as compared to females. Additionally, the use of seat belts was lower among males. More than half the males, who died in motor vehicle crashes (55%) were not wearing a seat belt. Among females who died in crashes during the same reporting period, 43% weren’t buckled up.

The 2020 statistical analysis indicates 58% of passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes at night (6 PM – 5:59 AM) were not wearing seat belts which has led to additional attention to be directed by troopers and other law enforcement officers to seat belt enforcement seat belt enforcement during the evening hours during the upcoming campaign.

Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night.

Other counties and cities including Bella Vista and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office have also committed to the Click It or Ticket mobilization.

More information about the Click It or Ticket mobilization can be found at https://www.nhtsa.gov/campaign/click-it-or-ticket or by calling the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. News and facts about Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities can be found at https://www.tzdarkansas.org/.