Maine's police departments beefing up enforcement of seat belt laws

Maine's police departments are delivering a message to drivers and passengers over the next two weeks: Click it or ticket.

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According to a press release from the Maine Department of Public Safety, police agencies from around the state are participating in a national campaign to increase seat belt usage as the summer driving season begins.

Departments have been given $545,272 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to fund the seat belt enforcement effort, as well as overtime to increase police patrols looking for drunk drivers, speeders and aggressive drivers.

Sixty-six police departments, 11 sheriffs' offices and the State Police will be participating in the campaign, according to Lauren Stewart, the director of the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety.

The Farmington, Paris, Auburn, Dixfield, Lewiston, Auburn, Lisbon, Rumford, Richmond, Oxford, Wells, and Wilton Police Departments and the Androscoggin County Sheriff's Department were among the grant recipients, receiving funds between $2,000 and $10,000.

According to the press release, 159 people were killed on Maine roads last year, and 158 people were killed in 2008 -- the safest years on Maine roads since 1959. Stewart said there were 42 highway deaths so far this year, 2 less than there were at this time last year."

"The last two years have been the safest on Maine roads in the past 50 years," Stewart said. "Much of the credit goes to the state's police agencies for their continued efforts to make our roads safe. This year's federal funding of over a half million dollars will continue those enforcement efforts for the entire summer driving season."

In 2009, 58 percent of the people who died while in a passenger motor vehicle were not wearing seat belts, according to Michelle Ward, the highway safety coordinator and fatality analysis reporting systems analyst for the Bureau of Highway Safety.  In 2008, that number was 52 percent.

These type of grants have been awarded to local police departments for several years, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety. Since summer is the most heavily traveled months on Maine roads, much of that funding will be utilized in June, July and August, he said.

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 's picture

how about beefing up

how about beefing up enforcement of no street racing! that might actually be useful and protect lives!

 's picture

Just because there is grant

Just because there is grant money does not mean it has to be spent.

 's picture

Okay a few things you guys

Okay a few things you guys are failing to see. One officers did not create this law, so if you don't like the idea of being forced to wear your seat belt take it up with the state legislature. Stop blamming officers for doing what they are suppose to be doing. Its kind of like "don't kill the messenger". Second this is a federal grant, not something that comes out of the police budget, so those stating the police budget needs to be cut should consider that even though an officer is on grant over time they are still on the street and able to respond to emergency calls if needed without coming out of the town budget. You can argue that its still tax dollars till you are blue in the face, fact is its not blaming our officers for this you need to place the blame where it belongs which is on our federal government for issuing these grants. Third and last the people who like to micro manage everything an officer does on shift, where their time is spent and how I offer this suggestion. Let me come to YOUR work, of which I probably have no experience in, and micro manage every detail of YOUR work day and tell you how to do YOUR job.....doesn't make much sense for me to act like your boss when I have little knowledge on the ins and outs of what you do now does it?

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Thats the point you missed.

Thats the point you missed. Lay off the low man on the totem poll for doing his job. If you don't like it change the law, get involved in government, make a difference. Don't sit behind a key board and bitch at those earning a pay check. Ever think cops pay taxes too?

 's picture


Erin, I agree with most of your post, but this grant is paid for by tax dollars. Just because a grant comes from a federal program doesn't mean it doesn't cost anything. Where do you think the money for this grant comes from? Tax dollars...

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Lewistonnative207, FYI

Lewistonnative207, FYI putting your seat belt on isn't a personal choice, it's the law....

seat belts

The statistics say that more unbelted people die at night. Most of those people are likely going home from bars. I deliver the Sun Journal. That is city driving mostly driving on back roads very slow. I am putting my seat belt on because I can't afford a ticket. However, when it rains and I wear a poncho, I have seen it take me 10 minutes to get the poncho untangled from the belt. 10 minutes times 50+ stops? Could interfere with getting the paper delivered on time.

 's picture

A little exaggeration maybe...

10 Minutes?!?!??! Really?

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The police department are

The police department are looking for ways to generate money via fines.


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