Seatbelt use enforcement effort under way in Valley

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WALLA WALLA -From through June 3 motorists in Walla Walla County can expect to see law enforcement patrolling city and county roadways in search of unbuckled drivers and passengers.

The College Place and Walla Walla police departments, the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office and the Washington State Patrol are teaming up to participate in these extra patrols, with the support of the Walla Walla County Traffic Safety Task Force, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission said in a release.

Studies show seat belt use decreases the chance of dying in a crash by 60 percent and reduces the risk of head injury by 80 percent.

During the past 10 years an estimated 1,010 lives were saved due to statewide increases in seat belt use.

After the adoption of the Click it or Ticket project, with the primary seat belt law enforcement passed in 2002, the number of traffic deaths dropped from 658 in 2002 to 455 in 2011, according to the commission's preliminary data.

Over the same period the seat belt use among Washington drivers rose from 82 percent to the current 97.5 percent.

The enhanced patrol over the long Memorial Day weekend is intended to ensure continued high compliance.

"The point is not to write seat belt citations, but to encourage drivers to buckle up," said Darrin T. Grondel, Traffic Safety Commission director.

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