SOPD Reminds Motorists to Use their Seat Belts … or Get a Ticket

By the CPC and SO Police Dept.



From May 24th to June 5th, South Orange Police Department is participating in the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign.   Seat belts reduce injury and death when properly worn.  

SOPD will use roving details (given resources, and either observing in a vehicle or on foot) to comply with this effort.  Two or three officers are assigned to patrol with the specific objective of issuing seat belt violations.   


If you are stopped for a seat belt violation, officers may also check your license, registration, insurance, and lights. So be prepared.  In addition to making sure everyone in your vehicle is buckled up (front and back seats), please check the following: 

  • Make sure your registration and insurance cards are easy to find in your car, and are up to date. 
    • If you have just moved to New Jersey and have registered the car in another state you only have 60 days to transfer the registration to New Jersey (120 days during a public health crisis). Click this link for more details.
  • Check your inspection sticker as well and make sure it is up to date.
  • Pull out your license and make sure it is up to date. You can renew online.  Click here.
  • Take a walk around your car in the evening and make sure the headlight and brake lights are working.  If your windshield is broken or cracked, please make an appointment to get it fixed.
  • Talk to the new drivers in your life and review what they should and shouldn’t do during a traffic stop. There are many different resources online, such as this: Click here.

As a driver it is your responsibility to comply with rules of the road and ensure your vehicle is maintained per state mandated requirements.

All traffic stops in South Orange are recorded by the Body Worn Cameras (BWC) on officers, as well as by the dashboard cameras from the police vehicle (if present.)

Drivers have the right to use the courts to challenge any summons, and should avoid debating the issue during the traffic stop.  Drivers can better understand their own rights during a traffic stop by reviewing this resource.  


In 2021, the number of fatal crashes in New Jersey climbed to 672  – 21% higher than 2020 – and the number of lives lost in those crashes rose nearly 20% to 702. Taken together, the number of crashes and deaths are the highest recorded in New Jersey since 2007. Preliminary year-to-date data show that crashes and fatalities are up more than 15% from May 22, 2021, putting the state on track for another sharp increase by year’s end. Front seat belt usage rate in New Jersey currently stands at 93.9%. However, adults riding in rear seats are buckling up at a significantly lower rate, only 48% according to the most recent surveys.


During the 2019 campaign (the most recent year for which data is available), 31% of all violations issued in Essex County were related to seat belt usage. (Please note that multiple violations can be issued to one driver.). South Orange represented 10% of Essex County violations issued, behind Essex County Sheriffs (25%), Bloomfield (14%), Montclair (13%), Fairfield (12%) and Livingston (also at 10%). Maplewood, in comparison, had 2% of the Essex County violations.

Of the violations issued in South Orange, only about 1% were related to seat belt usage, 6% to speeding, and 86% other reasons. Maplewood PD’s violation distribution included 26% for seat belt usage, 7% for phone texting, and 64% for other reasons. Violation issued for failure to buckle up across other Essex County Police Departments: Essex Falls (58%), Belleville (52%), West Caldwell (51%), Essex County Sheriffs (46%) and North Caldwell (42%.) The full report is available here.

The CPC recommends further analysis to understand the discrepancy in the number of violations related to seat belt usage across these municipalities. We also recommend further research into the decision of four of our neighbors — Newark, Orange, East Orange and Irvington — not to participate in the 2019 campaign.

The Community Police Collaborative and the South Orange Police Department want all community members and visitors to be safe while driving, and the best thing you can do to protect yourself in a car is to fasten their seatbelt. So “click it” and you’ll avoid a ticket, but most of all, you’ll avoid serious or life-threatening injury.

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