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Police departments in New London, Stonington, Waterford and Westerly will participate in a nationwide crackdown on drunken driving and violations of seat-belt laws during the Memorial Day holiday period.
Beginning Monday, the Stonington and Westerly departments as well as Connecticut and Rhode Island state police will take part in the “Click It or Ticket” program’s “Border to Border” operation, stepping up enforcement of seat-belt laws at the Connecticut-Rhode Island border. New London police will also participate in the program, which runs through June 1.
“As we kick off the busy summer driving season, it is critical that everyone buckles up every time they go out, day and night — no excuses,” Stonington Police Chief Darren Stewart said in a news release issued by the state Department of Transportation.
From now through June 1, Waterford police will assign two or three additional officers to selected day and night patrol shifts targeting drunken driving and seat-belt law violators, according to a department press release. The patrols will also strictly enforce speeding and other motor vehicle violations.
The campaigns are part of the Federal Highway Safety Program and the Connecticut Highway Safety Strategic Plan.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 52 percent of the 21,253 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2011 were not wearing their seat belts. National statistics also show unbelted fatalities are more prevalent at night than during the day. NHTSA statistics show 62 percent of the 10,135 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2011 during the overnight hours of 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m. were not wearing seat belts.
In Connecticut, 27 unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants were killed at night compared to 38 who were killed during daytime crashes.