Fewer Connecticut motorists buckling up

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NEW HAVEN - Nationally, roughly 88 percent of motorists wear seat belts.

Connecticut, over the past five years, has dipped three percent below that average. The biggest offenders: 18 to 34-year-old men and drivers of pick-up trucks.

“Statistics show that they just feel they are invincible,” said Phyllis DiFiore, occupant protection program manager for the Connecticut Department of Transportation. “You know, ‘we’re good drivers’ or ‘just going down the street.’”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in 2014, nearly 10,000 motorists died simply because they were not wearing seat belts. Last year, 72 people died in Connecticut.

“I don't know why you wouldn't wear your seatbelt because it does make a significant difference when you are in a car accident, said Dr. Lisa Hile, an emergency room physician at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

She said that in most traffic fatalities involving individuals not wearing seat belts, drugs and or alcohol were likely a factor.

“They don't even remember whether or not they put their seatbelt on or not,” said Hile.

The latest Click It Or Ticket campaign in Connecticut kicks off Monday evening at Connecticut state borders.

“We probably have upwards to 150 agencies participating just here in Connecticut,” said Ed Hedge, law enforcement liaison for the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

The Connecticut DOT aims to change people's seat belt habits by having their messaging out there year-round.

“This population seems to be into a lot of social media,” said DiFiore. “So, we are doing a lot of that. We advertise, do education at the sporting venues and concerts.”

If you are not inclined to wear a seatbelt and you get caught, it will cost you $92 and perhaps a lot more.

“Wearing your seatbelt is the single most effective thing you can do when you get in the car to protect yourself in a car crash or rollover, “ said DiFiore.

Over 150 Connecticut police departments are participating in the Click It Or Ticket campaign.

Hile says what is most frustrating about patients, who die as a result of not wearing their seatbelt, is that, if they had buckled up, not only would they likely be alive, but they also might not have even had to visit a hospital at all.