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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- The North Carolina Governor's Safety Program (GHSP) launched its statewide seat belt initiative Monday, in an effort to crack down on seat belt violations and improve the state seat belt use average of 89.5 percent.

The initiative is scheduled to run through May 31 and will require the enforcement of county and city law enforcement agencies, who will be conducting saturation patrols, safety checkpoints and undercover monitoring.

Fifteen counties, including Alamance County, are considered "survey counties," from which the state derives its data on seat belt use. Burlington police officer Reid Metters explained the Burlington Police Department began increasing seat belt enforcement May 5, and officers issued more than 150 seat belt citations in the first week.

The fine for a passenger or front-seat driver who is not wearing a seat belt is $161.

Metters said in addition to looking for drivers and passengers who are not wearing their seat belts, officers also will be looking for improper fit of seat belts and children's car seats. Violators will be cited, in accordance with the North Carolina seat belt law.

From 2007 to 2011, the NC Governor's Highway Safety Program reported an average of 444 people who are not buckled up die each year in accidents. Metters said police too often see accidents in which a person's life could have been saved had he or she been wearing a seat belt.

The North Carolina Governor's Safety Program (GHSP) launched its statewide seat belt initiative Monday, in an effort to crack down on seat belt violations and improve the state seat belt use average of 89.5 percent. WFMY News 2

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