Police departments across Wisconsin are looking for the non-bucklers over the next two weeks, in the interest of safety.

The annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign began Monday and will continue to June 2.

Thanks to designated federal funding, more patrol officers will be assigned to the highways and will be working longer hours to check on drivers and passengers to make sure they are using seat belts, which is a state law.

"Our top priority throughout the year is public safety, and wearing a seat belt is the single most important way motorists can protect themselves every time they travel," said Craig Thompson, secretary designee of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Wisconsin drivers are using seat belts at a 89% rate, which is among the best rates ever in the Badger State.

Even so, about half the fatalities in car or light truck crashes are victims not using seat belts.

Ten years ago, Wisconsin lawmakers passed legislation giving law enforcement the power to stop and ticket drivers just for failing to buckle up, and drivers can also be ticketed for every passenger not using a seat belt.

Seat belt enforcement added up to over 50,000 tickets issued in 2018.

The original seat belt law went into effect in December 1987 as a secondary law, meaning a ticket for non-use could only be issued in conjunction with another traffic violation.

At that time, seat belt use was at 26% in Wisconsin. When the primary seat belt law came into being in 2009, seat belt use had climbed up to 74%.

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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