Relying on an airbag or anything else in an automobile accident is no substitute for wearing a seat belt, according to Licking County authorities.

Relying on an airbag or anything else in an automobile accident is no substitute for wearing a seat belt, according to Licking County authorities.

The Licking County Health Department's Safe Communities Coalition and local law-enforcement agencies will join the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from Monday, May 18, through May 31 for the annual Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilization.

During this time, state and local law enforcement agencies will step up enforcement to identify motorists not wearing their seat belts.

Last year in Licking County, authorities recorded 17 fatal crashes, killing 19 individuals. Approximately 63 percent of those killed were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, according to a Licking Health Department release.

From Jan. 1, 2014, to May 1, 2015, Licking County lost 24 lives to car crashes, and 17, or almost 71 percent, were not wearing seat belts, according to the release.

"The families and loved ones of those who were killed in crashes last year know the consequences of choosing not to wear a seat belt all too well," said Carrie Minor, Safe Communities Coalition coordinator. "Click It or Ticket is not about the citations; it is about saving lives."

The Safe Communities Coalition held a kickoff event and press conference for the campaign Thursday, May 14, at the Newark Fire Department's Station 3.

During the event, red and white balloons were released in remembrance of those who died in Licking County traffic accidents since January 2014. Seventeen white balloons represented the people who died not wearing seat belts.

Minor said the goal of this event was to raise awareness and encourage everyone to buckle up in a combined effort to prevent more tragedies.

"Increased enforcement of seat belt laws coupled with publicity has proven to be an effective method to increase seat-belt use rates and decrease fatal crashes," Newark Mayor Jeff Hall said at the event.

Lt. Kevin Miller, commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Granville post, urged motorists to remind others to wear seat belts and always to wear a seat belt themselves, whether as a driver or a passenger.

Failing to wear a seat belt, he said, is not only dangerous, but can be expensive as well.

"We'll have zero tolerance for those who don't wear their seat belt," Miller said.

Drivers can be assured, Miller said, that those who don't click it will receive a ticket.