The East Ridge Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) are working together to make sure everyone wears a seatbelt.

THSO's Seatbelts for Everyone (S.A.F.E) campaign, which kicks off next month, focuses on increasing the number of people using seatbelts and making sure children are buckled in.

To do this, law enforcement will set up checkpoints, host public events and implement occupant-protection programs.

“We know seat belts and child restraints save lives and reduce injuries from traffic crashes," East Ridge Assistant Police Chief Stan Allen said. "The department is dedicated to increasing seat belt usage in the city.”

This will be the sixth year the THSO has sponsored the campaign.

In 2018, S.A.F.E resulted in:

  • 1,182 child restraint violations
  • 13,165 seat belt violations
  • 305 other seat belt enforcement activities

“In 2017, Tennessee’s average seatbelt usage rate was 88.51 percent,” said THSO Director Vic Donoho. “Last year, the usage rate was 88.77 percent. Through increased education, enforcement, and community involvement, we’re striving to achieve 100 percent.”

In 2019, law enforcement agencies participating in the campaign will be focusing on nighttime seatbelt enforcement.

"Tennessee has seen a disproportionate percentage of unrestrained fatalities between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 5:59 a.m," an East Ridge spokesperson said.

Police say around 50 percent of the state's traffic fatalities involve people who were not wearing their seatbelts. That percentage increases to around 60 percent at night.

The campaign will run from February 1 - August 1.