Maine police agencies have stepped up enforcement of the state’s seat belts laws.   Maine Highway Safety Director Lauren Stewart said 68 police agencies, including State Police are splitting $226,000 in federal highway safety funding to conduct overtime patrols enforcing the seat belt laws.  The campaign coincides with a national effort that will continue until June 1. The campaign started on Monday.  

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Stewart said half of last year’s fatal crashes in Maine involved drivers not buckled up. “ Although most of the state’s drivers use their seat belts, there is a minority who haven’t gotten the message.  The two week “buckle up – no excuses” campaign will target those violators.”

In addition to the seat belt effort, State Police plan over 40 different enforcement  activities of their own through the weekend as part of their annual Memorial Day safety efforts.  The Chief of the State Police, Colonel Robert Williams, said troopers will be looking for drunk and distracted drivers, aggressive driving, in addition to the seat belt violations.  In addition, Williams said the State Police plane will be flying over the state’s major highways looking for violators from the air.  “Memorial Day sets the tone for the summer driving season  and our goal is to make it a safe one,” Williams said.   Maine troopers will join their New England counterparts in New Hampshire Thursday morning to emphasize the safety efforts underway in the six states for the holiday weekend.  The event will take place at the Salem, NH rest area (northbound) at 11 a.m.

Two people were killed in traffic crashes during the Memorial Day weekend last year in Maine, and three people died during the 2012 holiday weekend.

Augmenting the seat belt and State Police efforts will be 50 of the state’s newest police officers who graduate Friday from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro. Many of those new officers, from cities, towns and counties, will be on duty this weekend.

Participating agencies in Aroostook County are the Aroostook County Sheriff's Office, Caribou Police Department, Fort Fairfield Police Department, Houlton Police Department and the Madawaska Police Department.