PennDOT will partner with state and local police in a national "Click It or Ticket" seat-belt enforcement effort through June 10.
The effort will emphasize the state's primary seat-belt law for drivers and passengers under 18 years-old, and will include outreach to boost awareness of seat-belt safety and laws.
"With the busy Memorial Day weekend signaling the start of the summer travel season, I strongly encourage everyone to buckle up every time, no matter how far you're traveling," PennDOT secretary Barry J. Schoch said. "Buckling up is the easiest way to keep you and your loved ones safe; it can increase your chance of surviving a crash by up to 60 percent."
According to PennDOT data, 509 people died last year in unbelted crashes, a decrease from 524 such fatalities in 2010. However, the total number of crashes in which people were not wearing seat belts rose last year to 16,298, compared to 15,442 in 2010.
Police will also focus on nighttime seat-belt enforcement, as 293 unbuckled fatalities occurred last year between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m., including 145 between 10 p.m. and 2:59 a.m.
"The 'Click It or Ticket' campaign can be a very effective tool for getting people to buckle up," State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said. "We're conducting this enforcement operation for one reason: we want everyone traveling on Pennsylvania roads to reach their destination safely.
"All it takes is a few seconds to buckle your seat belt. Failing to take this simple step could be the difference between a joyful summer and a tragic one, so please buckle up," Noonan added.
Pennsylvania's primary seat-belt law requires drivers and passengers under 18 years old to buckle up, and children under the age of 4 must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children ages 4 to 8 must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat. In addition, children ages 8 to 18 must be in a seat belt when riding anywhere in the vehicle.
Also, drivers and front-seat passengers 18 years-old or older are required to buckle up. If motorists are stopped for a traffic violation and are not wearing their seat belt, they can receive a second ticket and second fine.
More than 600 municipal police departments and the Pennsylvania State Police will participate in the enforcement. Funding comes from part of PennDOT's statewide distribution of $1.5 million in federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Visit www.JustDrivePA.com  for more information on seat-belt safety and PennDOT's other important traffic-safety initiatives.