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seat belts

stuffed animal buckled in seat belt
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The Michigan State Police Department is launching a new click-it-or-ticket campaign.

The effort that began Monday challenges motorists to help make Michigan the top state in the country for seat belt use. The nationwide seat belt mobilization period will end June 4.

The state is also challenging neighboring Ohio and Indiana to see which can improve its seat belt usage rate the most this year.

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A new study commissioned by the Governors Highway Safety Association finds that people are significantly less likely to buckle up in the back seat. 

And that means people are dying in traffic accidents that they might otherwise survive.

Researcher James Hedlund says of the 883 unrestrained rear seat passenger fatalities in 2013, more than 400 would likely have survived had they buckled up.

Miki Yoshihito / Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan drivers may no longer be let off the hook if child passengers aren't in a safety seat.

Violators now can avoid up to $103 in fines and court costs if they buy a child safety seat before the court appearance date on their citation.

But under a bill passed 35-1 by the state Senate on Wednesday, judges would no longer be required to waive the court penalties. Supporters say repeat offenders aren't buying car seats in good faith.

The legislation specifically addresses violators of a requirement to secure children under age 4 in a safety seat. Michigan also requires children under age 8 to be in a booster seat.

The bill was sent to the House for its consideration.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson was in the front seat and not wearing a seat belt -- in violation of state law -- when his car was struck by another driver on Friday.

Patterson sustained a broken femur and two broken wrists.

Patterson's driver was also not wearing a seat belt - nor was the driver of the Volkswagon Passat that struck Patterson's car.

Anne Readett is a spokeswoman for the state Office of Highway Safety Planning.