Law enforcement agencies statewide have been stepping up seat belt enforcement and education.
A grant awarded in March from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is funding efforts by the Alaska State Troopers, the Anchorage Police Department and the Alaska Highway Safety Office, according to a news release from the troopers.
``You can tell them how good wearing seat belts is over and over, but it's the threat of enforcement -- the threat of a ticket -- that gets them to wear them,'' said Greg Wilkinson, the troopers' information officer.
Numbers for Southeast Alaska are not available, Wilkinson said, but troopers statewide wrote 293 citations in June for seat belt and child restraint violations -- an 82 percent increase over June 1999.
According to a 1999 survey, only 61 percent of Alaska's drivers buckle up. That is below the national average of 67 percent, and well below the 81 percent in Washington state.
as part of the ``Buckle-up For the Ride of Your Life'' campaign, drivers who are pulled over for speeding violations will also be issued seat belt citations if anyone in the vehicle is not restrained. The penalty for failure to wear a safety belt is $15 with a $10 court service fee for those 16 or older. If a child is not secured, the fine is $50 with a $10 court service fee.