King County nighttime seat belt enforcement patrols run Oct. 23-Nov. 8

King County Law Enforcement agencies have recently received a $16,000 grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to conduct additional seat belt patrols this fall.

Part of the funding will support the upcoming Nighttime Seat Belt Emphasis patrols between Oct. 23 and Nov. 8. The remaining funding has provided sustained seat belt patrols throughout King County.

Participating in the patrols are the Auburn, Black Diamond, Kent, Maple Valley and Renton and Sea Tac Police Departments, with the support of the City of Kent Drinking Driver Task Force.

Seat belts reduce the risk of injury and death by about 70 percent when worn correctly. As seat belt use has increased during the years, traffic deaths and serious injuries have dropped, falling to 518 in 2008 from 649 in 2001 in Washington State.

“Law enforcement pull over unbuckled motorists all the time, but during these special emphasis patrols, officers are on the lookout for seat belt violators," said Lowell Porter, Washington Traffic Safety Commission director. "The idea is to get motorists into the habit of buckling up so we can continue to reduce the death toll on our state’s highways.”

For years, Washington has been one of the top states for seat belt use. During the last recorded observational survey during 2008 of about 100,000 Washington motorists, seat belt use stood at 96.5 percent.

Part of this high usage rate is because Washington has a primary enforcement seat belt law, so an officer can pull over a vehicle if a driver – or passenger – is not buckled up. If the unbuckled passenger is under age 16, the driver gets the ticket; if the unbuckled passenger is age 16 or older, the passenger gets their own seat belt ticket.

A seat belt ticket in Washington State costs $124.

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