The U.S. Department of Transportation on May 22 launched its annual "Click It or Ticket" seat belt enforcement campaign, reminding motorists about the severe risks of driving unbelted -- day or night.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that while nationwide seat belt use was at a record high of 86% in 2012, seat belt use at night continues to be lower than during the day.

"We've made great strides in getting people to buckle up since the first seat belt campaign was launched in 1985, but we still have work to do," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "The 'Click it or Ticket' program builds on those earlier efforts – sharing the message that seat belts save lives."

According to NHTSA, the risk of being involved in a serious crash is greater at night than during the day. In 2011, 62% of motorists who died in a crash that occurred at night were unrestrained, compared to 43% of those who died in a crash during the day. During Memorial Day weekend, law enforcement will focus on both day and nighttime drivers for seat belt use.

"Law enforcement officers across the country will be out day and night, handing out tickets to unbuckled motorists," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "We hope our 'Click It or Ticket' efforts will encourage more motorists to buckle up and make it a lifelong habit."

According to a NHTSA 2011 telephone survey, most people buckle up when officers begin writing more tickets, and many drivers continue the habit after the enforcement period ends.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet