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The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) says more Tennesseans are taking the time to buckle up.

Seat belt use reached almost 88 percent statewide for the month of June. That's an increase of three percent over the last observation period.

The UT Center for Transportation Research conducted the survey.

"We are extremely pleased to see this solid increase in seat belt usage in Tennessee. As fatalities have decreased, this is further proof that seat belts save lives, and that's what we are in the business to do," GHSO Director Kendell Poole said. "This all-time high in usage also means that our 'Click It or Ticket' campaign, combining education with the enforcement efforts of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and every single local law enforcement partner across the state, has been a productive partnership," he added

Troopers have issued almost 59-thousand citations since the first of the year, and 4,666 seat belt citations during this year's Click it or Ticket campaign, which ran from May 19 through June 1.

"Since the beginning of 2012, our agency has implemented an aggressive seat belt enforcement program," Colonel Tracy Trott said. "We've seen a 236 percent increase in the number of seat belt citations state troopers have issued since then. I'm thankful to the troopers who have worked so hard in this area, along with our partners at GHSO, the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police and the Tennessee Sheriffs' Association who have helped us achieve this level of safety for our citizens," he added.

A THP spokesperson says the number of traffic fatalities without seat belt use is at a five year low and they believe their campaign is saving lives.

As of July 14, preliminary statistics indicate 476 people have died on Tennessee roadways, a decrease of 29 deaths compared to 505 fatalities at this same time in 2013.

To date, 49.7 percent of the state's fatalities have been unrestrained motorists. "We still have room for improvement in all areas and demographics and will continue our efforts to reach even higher goals and save even more lives in Tennessee," Director Poole said.

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