GREENSBORO, N.C. - Governor Roy Cooper has proclaimed May as Seat Belt Safety Awareness Month.

The purpose is to save lives and stress the importance of buckling up in a motor vehicle.

North Carolina law requires drivers and passengers to be properly restrained by using a seat belt.

According to NCDOT, more than 70,000 car crashes have been reported so far across the state in 2018.

Of those car crashes, more than 300 people have died.

"The best way to protect yourself in a crash is by wearing a seat belt," said Mark Ezzell, director of the N.C. Governors Highway Safety Program. "It doesn't matter where you are in a car. Simply buckling up can save your life and the life of your passenger."

Many passengers mistakenly believe they are safer in the rear seat and do not need to wear a seat belt.

In 2017, 42 percent of automobile fatalities in North Carolina were drivers or passengers who were not wearing their seat belt.

The Governor's Highway Safety Program's 2017 annual Seat Belt Survey reported that 91.4 percent of front seat drivers and passengers wear their seat belt.

In 2017, the number of unrestrained serious injuries increased in North Carolina from 583 in 2016 to 857 and unrestrained fatalities decreased from 449 to 412 in that same period.

The Governor's Highway Safety Program is partnering with state and local law enforcement to conduct their annual Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign around the Memorial Day holiday.

Drivers can expect to see increased state and local law enforcement on the roads, searching for seat belt lawbreakers.

The campaign will run throughout the month to remind travelers to Click It or Ticket.