By Haley Viccaro, Albany Bureau
ALBANY, NY-- A statewide campaign called "Buckle Up New York" kicks off May 20, urging residents to wear seat belts while driving and cracking down on those who don't.
The 14-day campaign will be conducted by law enforcement agencies throughout the state. They are teaming up to boost seat-belt enforcement at border sites through "Operation Border to Border."
"The importance of wearing a seat belt is clear -- seat belts save lives," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. "Taking a few seconds to fasten your seat belt or to properly secure a child's safety seat is the easiest thing you can do to keep yourself and your passengers safe."
Law enforcement agencies will enforce a zero tolerance approach toward individuals driving without a seat belt and will distribute tickets in the state and other states, Cuomo said. The campaign is part of the nationwide "Click It or Ticket" effort to crackdown on individuals who don't wear seat belts.
The governor's office said the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 52 percent of the 21,253 individuals who were killed in a car crash in 2011 were not wearing seat belts.
The administration also reported in 2011 that wearing a seat belt saved the lives of about 11,949 individuals nationally, including 444 in New York.
"By using safety belts and child safety seats properly, operators and passengers dramatically reduce their risk of severe injury or death when in a motor vehicle crash," State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said in a statement.