Click It or Ticket returns in force for the Memorial Day holiday season, with several local agencies signing on to the traffic enforcement program.

The special enforcement period starts today and continues through June 3.

The Waxahachie Police Department, the Ferris Police Department and the Department of Public Safety are among the agencies participating in Click It or Ticket, a grant program funded through the Texas Department of Transportation that provides overtime pay for officers to enforce traffic laws.

A new emphasis for the program this year is to convince more motorists to buckle up day and night, according to a press release from the Ferris Police Department.

“The mobilization is beingsupported by a projected $10 million in paid national advertising and additional advertising in each state to encourage all motorists, but especially motorists at night, to always buckle up,” the release reads. “So, unless you want to risk a ticket, or worse, your life, please remember to buckle up day and night - ‘Click It or Ticket.’ ”

The program’s focus is to increase seatbelt use in all passenger vehicles and trucks by conducting an intense occupant-protection enforcement, information and education effort during the holiday period.

There are no warnings for failure to follow the law during Click It or Ticket, Waxahachie police Lt. Billie Pendleton said, noting any violators will be issued tickets.

Last year, the WPD issued 135 citations to either passengers or drivers, with seven child safety seat citations also issued.

“We do a pre-survey and then we do a post-survey at the end of the grant period,” Pendleton said. “I have noticed this year when I did the pre-survey, the numbers are not near what they were last year, so a lot of people are in compliance now.”

Extra enforcement measures help save lives, she said, because they make more people become aware of the seatbelt law.

Before last year’s enforcement, about 80 percent of vehicle occupants were compliant. After the enforcement, that number jumped to more than 93 percent, an increase of about 14 percent.

A recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report indicates that nearly one in five Americans or 18 percent nationally fails to regularly wear his or her safety belt as either a driver or occupant.

Statistics indicate that those least likely to buckle up are young males, pickup truck drivers and their passengers, people who live in rural areas and nighttime drivers.

In 2005, Texas had a safety belt use increase of seven percentage points, moving from 83.2 percent to 89.9 percent.

DPS has had a zero-tolerance policy regarding seat belts and child safety seats since 1999.

Statistically, the deadliest time on the road during Memorial Day weekend is between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. - a time frame when alcohol and fatigue often are cited as factors.

E-mail JoAnn at editor@waxahachiedailylight.com