The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than half of those killed in car crashes in 2011 were not wearing seat belts. State troopers are trying to change those numbers by running the "Buckle Up New York" campaign, or federal "Click it or Ticket" effort to educate drivers and their passengers. Those stops can lead to more than just seat belt law violators.
For many of the motorists who passed by Trooper Joe Monds on Thursday, it was a quick and simple stop. The New York State Police checkpoint where Monds was pulling over cars ended with a traffic ticket for others.
The checkpoint, set up along Boys Club Place in Rochester, was part of the "Buckle Up New York" campaign, or federal "Click it or Ticket" effort to educate drivers and their passengers about the seat belt law.
New York's mandatory seat belt law went into effect in 1985. While it's estimated that more than 80 percent of Americans buckle up when they get in the car, many are still riding around without one.
In New York, the driver or passenger in the front seat of a car can be fined up to $50 for not having a seat belt on. If a passenger under the age of 16 in the back seat is not buckled in, the driver could pay up to $100 and end up with points on his or her license.
"Not only have we enforced the law, but we've educated motorists," said New York State Police Sgt. Jose Vazquez, who ran the police detail Thursday. "The compliance rate is high, but we still unfortunately get motorists who do not understand they have to wear their seat belts to operate a motor vehicle.
Fatalities, serious personal injuries... a lot of that can be avoided with seat belts."
The road blocks are run several times throughout the year, especially during the summer months. While the troopers are looking for drivers or passengers who aren't wearing their seat belts, the road blocks can often lead to several other arrests or detentions.
In less than an hour at the checkpoint, one man was arrested for criminal possession of a controlled substance. Another man was issued an appearance ticket for unlawful possession of marijuana. Another man was ticketed for driving without a license.
"We're here for traffic safety, but unfortunately we sometimes come across penal law infractions, drug possessions, warrants," said Vazquez.
Sgt. Vazquez said this effort will continue in different places throughout the summer.