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The Arlington Police Department has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the state to increase the number of patrols and to remind drivers and passengers about the life-saving benefits of wearing a seat belt.

Arlington police are joining other departments across the state and State Police in the national Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign.

"Seat belts are the single most important safety item in our vehicles," said Chief Juliann Flaherty in a May 21 news release. "We see firsthand the devastating consequences of drivers and their passengers not buckling up. These funds will increase our traffic enforcement presence to help end these preventable tragedies."

Kevin Stanton, executive director of the state Office of Grants and Research (OGR), said: "Seat belts are the best way to protect yourself from dangerous drivers. You might be an excellent driver, but not everyone else is. Seat belts are your best defense against impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers."

Jeff Larason, division director of the OGR's Highway Safety Division, said: "Seat belts save lives. It's as simple as that. Massachusetts has one of the lowest seat-belt use rates in the nation. We need to change that."

Capt. Richard Flynn said $15,000 from the grant was earmarked for enforcement activities and $5,000 for equipment.

Massachusetts' seat-belt use rate is consistently lower than the national average, ranking 45th in the 2019 seat-belt observational study.

At 81.6 percent use, more than 1.2 million Bay Staters still are not regularly buckling up. The national seat-belt use rate is 90.7 percent (2019).

In Massachusetts, a larger percentage of pickup trucks (71%) and SUVs (65%) fatalities are unrestrained compared to passenger cars (60%).

According to NHTSA, seat belts saved an estimated 61 lives in Massachusetts in 2018.

Sixty-eight percent of nighttime fatalities are unrestrained in Massachusetts compared to 55 percent of unrestrained daytime fatalities.

Crashes are not "accidents." We urge the media to follow the AP Stylebook, which suggests avoiding the word "accident" for distracted, negligent, drunk or drugged crashes.

For more information on the OGR's Municipal Road Safety and distracted driving enforcement grant program, click here >>

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This news announcement was published Friday, May 28, 2021.