Wisconsin State Patrol steps up enforcement as national 'Click It or Ticket' campaign gets underway

NOW: Wisconsin State Patrol steps up enforcement as national ’Click It or Ticket’ campaign gets underway

WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The nationwide annual 'Click It or Ticket' campaign kicked off Monday, May 23. The Wisconsin State Patrol and other agencies will be stepping up enforcement on drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts as a busy travel weekend approaches with Memorial Day.

It's usually the first thing people do as soon as they get in the car, but surprisingly, law enforcement are still giving out seat belt citations and that is why the 'Click It or Ticket' campaign is a crucial reminder every year to buckle up.

This comes in a time when there is a rise in fatal crashes nationwide. According to the Wisconsin's Department of Transportation, WisDOT About 150 people have died on Wisconsin roads since the start of 2022.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,

In 2020, 10,893 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants were killed in crashes in the United States.

"We spend a lot of time enforcing seat belt use to make sure people are being safe. No one plans on going out and getting into a crash so wearing a seat belt is a proven way to stay safe if you are to get into a crash," said Wisconsin State Trooper David Heinisch from the Waukesha Post.

This also comes as Wisconsin's seat belt use is dropping. According to WisDOT, a seat belt survey found about 88% of Wisconsin drivers and passengers buckled up in 2021. That number was down two percentage points from 2019 and is behind the national rate of about 90%

Heinisch is known as the prime seat belt enforcer in Waukesha's post. CBS 58 rode along with him and sure enough, his eagle eyes spotted a driver not wearing his seat belt properly.

"You can tell he has the seat belt belted behind his back," said Heinisch.

Drivers caught without a seat belt can face a $10 fine and that is what the driver pulled over was given.

"It is such a simple way to ensure your safety if you were to get into a crash so again, we are just out here hoping people voluntarily comply with the seat belt laws and if not, we will be here to remind them," said Heinisch.

Before Wisconsin's seat belt law took effect in 2009, the state’s seat belt use rate was under 74%. That number increased thanks to ongoing public education. Making the message clear on why these efforts are still needed.

The campaign runs through June 5.

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