For the next two weeks the Pratt County Sheriff’s Department will take part in the Click It or Ticket campaign.

For the next two weeks the Pratt County Sheriff’s Department will take part in the Click It or Ticket campaign.

Today through June 5 sheriff’s officers will be running extra patrols specifically looking for drivers and passengers without seatbelts, said Pratt County Sheriff Vernon Chinn.

Funding for this special program comes through the State of Kansas from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Officers can only use those state funds for the Click It or Ticket program.

Besides seatbelt violations, officers will be aggressively looking for other violations as well.

During the program, drivers can expect strict enforcement of the Safety Belt Use and Child Passenger Safety Acts, said Pratt Police Sgt. Adam Piland.

Drivers can expect tickets and not warnings during the two-week period.

The acts require that all occupants must be appropriately restrained. Occupants 14 and older will be individually cited. If a passenger under 14 is unrestrained the driver will be cited.

Children under age of 4 must be in a child safety seat, children ages 4 though 7 must be securely seat-belted in an appropriate booster seat unless they are taller then 4 feet 9 inches or heavier than 90 pounds. All other children must be seat-belted.

Child restraint numbers decline as they grow older. Only 77 percent of children are restrained in vehicles. The belted in breakdown is: 97 percent from 0 to 4; 76 percent from 5 to 9; 63 percent for ages 10 to 13.

The laws also prohibit anyone under the age of 14 from riding anywhere in the vehicle other than areas designed to carry passengers, such as a pickup bed.

Some people will argue they don’t wear seatbelts because it might prevent them from getting out of a vehicle after a wreck. During his years in law enforcement that has never been the case for Chinn. Seatbelts also help people stay inside the vehicle during the wreck.

“Seatbelts save lives. I have never seen people who couldn’t get out,” Chinn said. “The best chance is to stay inside the vehicle until the crash is over.”

The state statistics support the push to put on a seatbelt. In 2009, Kansas had 388 traffic fatalities. Two thirds of those fatalities did not have seatbelts on while 89 percent of people who were not even injured in accidents were belted in, Piland said.

Kansas ranks 35 in the nation for front seat passengers that buckle up with 82 percent. Across the state more people tend to buckle up in urban areas than rural areas. People that are unrestrained in an accident are more likely to die in an accident than those that wear seatbelts.

Only 36 percent of all crashes happen in rural areas but 66 percent of all fatalities happen in those areas.

The decision is simple. It takes two seconds to buckle up and that could prevent serious injury or death.

“Everyone knows there are seat belt laws and that seatbelts and child safety seats save lives and reduce injury, as well as hold down health care costs for all of us,” Piland said. “But too many drivers play the odds and drive unrestrained because, statistically, a crash is unlikely. The fact is, though, when a crash does happen — and it’s generally within five miles of home — the two seconds took to buckle up looks like a smart investment.”