SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Good 4 Utah) - Memorial weekend is approaching and the 15th annual “Click it or Ticket” campaign kicked off Monday. This is the 15th year the campaign has taken place and according to the Utah Highway Patrol and statistics from the Utah Department of Public Safety, the campaign is saving lives.
"From 2000 to where we're at now the estimated lives saved is over 17-thousand lives saved in that time period just by people buckling up,” said Sgt Todd Royce with the Utah Highway Patrol.
Sgt. Royce has 20 years experience with the Utah Highway Patrol and has been around since the beginning of the "Click it or Ticket” campaign." He says...during his time...he personally has seen a huge difference on Utah roads.
"People are starting to realize its just good common sense to wear your seat belt,” said Sgt. Royce.
In fact, the numbers say it all, back in 2000 67.4% of Utahn's buckled up. Today, that number has increased to 82.4%.
"In 2013 61 people lost their lives that were not buckled up and the year before 2012 it was 78 people,” said Sgt. Royce.
A steady improvement, but still an unacceptable number says Sgt. Royce, which is why law enforcement across the state is cracking down starting today.
"From May 19th to June 1st, you'll see about 400 more overtime shifts given out for just seat belt related enforcement,” said Sgt. Royce.
However, the point isn't just to issue more tickets, rather to bring awareness, and save lives.
"There’s crashes out there we go on and I look at the crash and think nobody should have died in this crash it's a survivable crash, if they would have been wearing their seat belt,” said Sgt. Royce. He goes on to say, “It's' the single most important thing you can do when your driving, is to buckle up! "
Additionally, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety, those less likely to buckle up include men, passengers and drivers in rural areas.
Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.