OHIO (WTOL) - Summertime means school is out and families are hitting the road for vacations.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol wants to keep families safe by reminding travelers to buckle their seat belts.
"Literally that's the single biggest thing you can do in a car before you go anywhere, it takes a second, click it and that keeps you right in the seat and really significantly reduces the chances of injury or possibly worse, death," said OSHP Toledo Post Commander Lt. Shaun Robinson.
The national Click it or Ticket campaign will take place from May 22 to June 4, the same time as one of the busiest travel and holiday weekends of the year.
"Our law enforcement personnel see firsthand the loss of life when people refuse to buckle up," said Lieutenant Bob Ashenfelter. "It's such a simple thing, and it should be an automatic next step after sitting down in a vehicle."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost half of the over 22,000 people killed in crashes in 2015 were not wearing a seat belt. 57 percent of those people were killed from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Lucas County leads all 88 counties throughout Ohio in an increase in deadly crashes from 2016, up 15. The next closest county is only up eight.
Lieutenant Ashenfelter can't pinpoint the reason for the dramatic increase, but he hopes seat belt enforcement paired with impaired driving crackdown helps.
"Help us spread this life-saving message before one more friend or family member is killed as a result of this senseless inaction. Seat belts save lives and everyone – front seat and back, child and adult – needs to remember to buckle up, every trip, every time," said Lieutenant Ashenfelter.
During the Click it or Ticket campaign, participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations both day and night.
"We want to keep community members safe, and make sure people are doing the one thing that can save them in a crash: buckling up," Lieutenant Ashenfelter said. "If the enforcement crackdown wakes people up to the dangers of unrestrained driving and gets them to buckle up, we'll consider it a success."
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