(WKBN) — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and its safety partners are reminding drivers to buckle up in connection with the “Click It or Ticket” Seat Belt Enforcement Mobilization.

Representatives from PennDOT and local law enforcement gathered on Wednesday at the Interstate 80 Welcome Center in Mercer County for an event to promote safety on Pennsylvania’s roadways and draw attention to the dangers of not using a seat belt.

“This initiative is extremely important considering our seatbelt compliance numbers are down significantly this year,” said Lt. Dan Morrison of Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The national campaign runs from May 22 through June 4.

“Approximately 90% of motorists in Pennsylvania wear their seat belt, but that still leaves the remaining 10% unprotected by not using their best defense against death or serious injury in the event of a crash,” said PennDOT District 1 Executive Brian McNulty, P.E. “The numbers are clear – seat belts save lives.”

In PennDOT’s District 1, which includes Crawford, Erie, Forest, Mercer, Venango and Warren counties, there were 20 unbelted fatalities among the 69 total roadway deaths last year.

Number of unrestrained crash fatalities in Mercer County in the last five years:

  • 2018: 4
  • 2019: 5
  • 2020: 2
  • 2021: 3
  • 2022: 2

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says wearing a seat belt increases a person’s chance of survival in a crash by up to 60% and can keep motorists secure in their vehicles.

Throughout the ongoing “Click It or Ticket” campaign, the Pennsylvania State Police are joining forces with hundreds of municipal law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania and other states to send a zero-tolerance message to motorists that driving or riding without a seat belt will result in a ticket, no matter the state.

Pennsylvania law requires drivers and passengers 18 years and older to wear a seat belt when behind the wheel or in the front passenger seat of a vehicle.

State and municipal police officers will be conducting traffic enforcement zones and roving patrols to encourage seat belt usage and fine those found not following Pennsylvania’s laws.