Published in the May 12, 2016 edition

NORTH READING — Chief Michael P. Murphy announces that the North Reading Police Department will take part in the national Click It or Ticket campaign to promote seat belt use through increased traffic enforcement.

The initiative is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and runs from May 9–23.

“Our primary goal is to keep our community and residents safe,” Chief Murphy said. “Wearing a seat belt is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in motor vehicle crashes. Seat belts also increase the safety of others in your vehicle, as it restrains your body and reduces the risk of you colliding with someone else in the vehicle. There are too many occasions where a death or serious injury could have been avoided if a seat belt had been worn. This is why wearing a seat belt is mandatory and not a choice.”

According to the NHTSA, the national seat belt usage rate is currently 88.5 percent, with Massachusetts falling behind at 74 percent — a 3 percent drop in use from 2014 to 2015. Additionally, in 2014, nearly half of the 21,022 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in crashes across the nation were not buckled.

“While these may just sound like statistics, local police know from personal experience that those numbers represent mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and friends in North Reading,” Jeff Larason, director of the Highway Safety Division, said in a statement. “If we increase our seat belt usage rate, we save lives and that’s why the police are out enforcing this important law.”

Police are also urging parents and guardians to make sure that their children are safe by using the appropriate car seat. If residents are having any trouble, questions or concerns with car seat installations, certified child passenger safety technicians are available to assist you or double-check your work to ensure your child’s car seat is properly installed.

The North Reading Police Department has four dedicated nationally certified child passenger safety (CPS) technicians. Each CPS technician attended a 32-hour National Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Certification Training Program. The program is a partnership among the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Child Passenger Safety Board (NCPSB) and Safe Kids Worldwide, which is the certifying body responsible for administering all aspects of certification.

The training program teaches CPS technicians how to educate caregivers on the correct selection, installation and use of car seats, booster seats and proper use of seat belts. It also teaches CPS technicians how to educate caregivers when to move the child to seat belts once booster seats are outgrown.

“The goal of the North Reading Police Department’s CPS program is to educate our community caregivers on the proper installation of car seats and booster seats,” said North Reading CPS Technician Officer Paul Lucci.

According to the NHTSA, vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death among children between 1 and 13 years old, and three out of every four car seats are not used correctly.

North Reading will join more than 200 municipal police departments and the Massachusetts State Police, in partnership with the Highway Safety Division of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, that are partaking in the campaign.

Anyone who has questions or concerns about this campaign or how to properly buckle a child, should contact the North Reading Police Department at 978–664–3131 or by e-mail at [email protected].