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Traffic safety celebrates 10 year anniversary of seat belt law and 1,010 lives saved!

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Washington’s primary seat belt law. An estimated 1,010 lives have been saved since the initiation of the law requiring drivers and passengers to buckle up. To mark the occasion and maintain this trend, officers throughout Northwest Washington are conducting Click It or Ticket patrols from May 21 through June 3.

Thirty-eight agencies from King, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties will have officers out looking for unbuckled drivers and passengers.

 “We are getting the word out to remind everyone to buckle up so we don’t have to write tickets,” shared Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick, the former Mill Creek State Representative who sponsored the 2002 legislation. “The purpose of the law is to save lives and I’m really pleased to see how far we’ve come.”

Washington state is a leader in seat belt use in the United States with 97.5 percent of motorists buckling up, an increase from 82 percent in 2002 when the primary law went into effect. With the rise of seat belt use, traffic deaths statewide have declined by nearly one-third, from 658 in 2002 to 455 in 2011 (preliminary data).

Despite these promising numbers, four out of every ten people who died in car crashes in Washington in the last five years were not wearing seat belts.

Traffic safety task forces in the five counties are coordinating the Click It or Ticket patrols with support from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

Participating law enforcement agencies include:

King County: Auburn, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Burien, Covington, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Kirkland, Maple Valley, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Pacific, Redmond, Renton, SeaTac, Seattle, Snoqualmie, and Tukwila Police Departments and the Washington State Patrol.

Pierce County: Fircrest, Lakewood, Orting, Puyallup, Sumner, and Tacoma Police Departments, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the Washington State Patrol.

Skagit County: Anacortes Police Department and the Washington State Patrol.

Snohomish County: Everett, Lynnwood, Marysville, and Mukilteo Police Departments, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, and the Washington State Patrol.

Whatcom County: Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden, and Western Washington University Police Departments, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, and the Washington State Patrol.