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Holiday push set to enforce seat belt laws

WASHINGTON -- Police across the country plan to crack down on late-night motorists who don't wear seat belts during the weeks surrounding Memorial Day.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said yesterday that death rates for night drivers and passengers were three times higher than those during daytime hours.

"Cops from coast to coast will be out there doing seat belt checkpoints," said Nicole Nason, administrator of the agency. "They will be . . . writing more tickets."

The annual "Click It or Ticket" awareness campaign runs from Monday through June 3.

About 80 percent of motorists wear seat belts, but the numbers complying with the law drop about 10 percentage points during the night, according to government estimates. A study released by the agency yesterday found that of the more than 15,000 motorists who died in 2005 crashes between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., nearly two-thirds were not wearing seat belts.