PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - If you're not in the habit of buckling up in the car, now might be a good time to start. That's because many local law enforcement agencies are watching to see that drivers are wearing their seatbelts.
Port St. Lucie Sergeant Darin Howie stands at the corner of Port St. Lucie and Gatlin Boulevards. He spots a violator, and calls ahead where a few hundred yards down Gatlin traffic officers spring into action. This is day one of the statewide "Click It or Ticket" campaign designed to increase seat belt use. Around the country, 85-percent of adults say they buckle up. Motor officer Terry Russell says that's because programs like this work.
"Between seatbelts and basic traffic education we do out here, it's helped considerably," said Officer Russell.
By mid-afternoon, more than 80 people had been pulled over around the city. Officers though say this isn't just about writing tickets.
"The majority of the drivers we get, they admit to it and we try to work as best we can. They say, 'I forgot, I normally wear it'. My biggest pet peeve is when the children don't have it on," said Officer Scott Johnson.
Florida law says everyone under 18 must be in a seat belt no matter where they sit. All drivers and front seat occupants must also buckle up. Krupa Patel was in a rush on her way to work, and was pulled over.
"I guess I understand why they do it, for safety reasons, but nobody is happy getting a ticket," said Patel.
Sergeant Kacey Donnell might beg to differ. Two years ago, he got a call from a driver he had pulled over.
"He told me the ticket I wrote him, changed the way he did things," said Sgt. Donnell.
Good thing because as it turns out, three weeks later that man, Stephen Carroll, was in a serious accident, and told Newschannel 5 he credited wearing a seatbelt with saving his life.
"If I did not get a ticket, I would not have been wearing a seatbelt that day," Carroll said back in 2010.
The "Click It Or Ticket" campaign runs until June 3rd.