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State tells drivers to buckle up

According to the state's DMV, motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death in the nation and the No. 1 cause of death for people between the ages of 2 and 34. Yet the department cites that 18 percent of all drivers and passengers in the state " one in five " do not routinely wear their seat belts.

In 2006, there were 42,642 people killed on the nation's highways, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Among those killed, nearly 16,000 (37 percent) were not buckled up at the time of their accident.

Lt. Thomas Heffernan of the Bethlehem Police Department said municipalities are given grants by the state to add extra patrols to their jurisdictions until June 1.

"We normally try to do it around a holiday," Heffernan said of the 'Buckle Up' program. "This is in addition to our daily efforts, of course."

Police say that front-seat passengers over the age of 16 can be subject to a citation if the driver is pulled over, and that if the passenger is under 16, the driver will be issued the citation.

Motorists can expect routine roadblock stops, much like an inspection sticker stop or a DWI checkpoint, over the next two weeks as police look for seat belt violators. State police say last year's "Buckle Up America Week" resulted in more than 10,000 tickets being issued to motorists who weren't wearing seat belts.

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