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Buckle up! Law enforcement ramping up seat-belt enforcement through June 2

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Law enforcement and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles have kicked off the Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign running now through June 2.

The high-visibility enforcement effort begins along busy roads today.

“Buckling up when you get in the car is the easiest way to protect yourself in the event of a crash, and it only takes seconds,” said DMV Commissioner Gerald Lackey. “Last year, 335 unrestrained people died in crashes and there were over 1,400 serious injuries. These numbers show us that we need to continue spreading awareness about the importance of seat belts.”

According to the most recent statewide seat belt survey, 26.8 percent of Virginians were still not wearing a seat belt. Last year, 54 percent of people killed in traffic crashes were unrestrained in a vehicle that had safety restraints.

AAA reports roads are expected to be some of the busiest ever for the Memorial Day holiday.

Nationally, 38.4 million are expected to travel by car for the holiday, the most ever since AAA began forecasting holiday travel back in 2000.

More than a million Virginians are expected to take a road trip over the long holiday weekend. That’s 4 percent higher than last year and less than 2 percent shy of the Memorial Day travel record set 19 years ago in 2005.

“Travelers could see busy roads and traffic in a lot of areas this holiday weekend which increases the risk of a crash,” said Morgan Dean, manager for public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

“That’s why it’s so important for drivers to buckle up, everyone, every trip, before they pull out of the driveway or parking space.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, buckling your seat belt can reduce your risk of death in a crash by 45 percent.

DMV reminds you not to stay silent when it comes to seat belt safety.

“Talk to your loved ones, don’t just assume they buckle up,” said John Saunders, DMV Highway Safety Office director of outreach. “If you get in the car with someone and you see they aren’t buckled, speak up and remind them that their life and yours could depend on it.”

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.