National seat belt safety initiative â??Click It or Ticketâ?? campaign kicks off

Shonda Page, a school bus driver for the Syracuse School District, was driving her bus on Wolf Street last March when an oncoming car crossed over directly into her path without warning.

"All I could say was 'oh my God' and boom, there was a big explosion," she says.

Fortunately, Page and the other driver were both wearing their seatbelts and were not seriously injured. Police want others to do the same.

The national "Click It or Ticket" campaign kicked off Monday.

For the next two weeks, spanning Memorial Day weekend, State Troopers, Sheriffs and local police will all be on the lookout for drivers who are not wearing seatbelts.

"As we kick-off the busy summer driving season it's important that everyone buckles up every time they go out, both day and night - no excuses," said North Syracuse Police Officer Jeff Tripp in a media release.

Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh says almost all fatal accidents involve drivers who were not wearing seat belts.

"I've been doing this for almost 50 years and I can't tell you the number of times I've had to stand on someoneâ??s front porch and tell them their loved one isn't coming home for dinner," he says.

Officials say that, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 52 percent of the 21,253 people killed in crashes in 2011 were not wearing their seat belts.

Statewide, more than 400 police agencies will be out enforcing the seatbelt law. Those caught not wearing one can face a fine of up to $100.

While seat belt use is at a record high, the Department of Transportation says 45 million Americans are still not buckling up. Shonda Page is glad did.

"Being that I had my seat belt on, my life was saved and I thank god because of that," she says.

New York State Law requires all front seat passengers to wear a seatbelt regardless of age, all rear seat passengers under 16 years of age to wear a seatbelt, children under the age of 4 to be secured in a child safety seat, and children under the age of 8 to be secured in an appropriate child restraint system.

The "Click It or Ticket" campaign runs through June 3rd.