For most people it seems, putting a seat belt on when you get in your car is second nature. Unfortunately, there are still people who, for whatever reason, refuse to buckle up.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation started its annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign this week and encourages all motorists to obey the law. The campaign will run through June 2.

“Our top priority throughout the year is public safety, and wearing a seat belt is the single, most important way motorists can protect themselves every time they travel,” WDOT Transportation Secretary-designee Craig Thompson said in a statement.

During the Click It or Ticket seat belt campaign, law enforcement officers will work longer hours and in greater numbers to ensure compliance with the state’s 10-year-old mandatory seat belt law.

Wisconsin’s first seat belt law was enacted in December 1987 and it made not wearing a seat belt a secondary offense, meaning that police can issue a citation for not wearing a seat belt only when there is another traffic citation.

Back in 1987, only 26 percent of Wisconsin’s drivers used seat belts, according to the DOT. The rate climbed to 74 percent when the state’s primary seat belt law went into effect in June of 2009. The current seat belt rate is 89 percent, the highest rate ever in Wisconsin.

The fact that nearly 90 percent of drivers buckle up is a good thing. But, about half of the car and light truck occupants killed in Wisconsin traffic crashes are unbuckled.

The advantages of wearing a seat belt are simple, but worth mentioning. There is less chance of a person being ejected and less chance of striking the inside of the vehicle.

It’s also important that passengers wear seat belts. Drivers can be fined for every passenger who is not wearing a seat belt.

Failing to wear a seat belt is one of the most common violations in Wisconsin, resulting in more than 50,800 convictions last year.

Besides enforcement, the WDOT will be getting the message out to motorists in a couple of ways. Former Green Bay Packer wide receiver Donald Driver will be featured in TV, radio and other public education messages, and there will be electronic message signs along major highways that will display buckle up reminders.

A final statistic about wearing seat belts, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 15,000 lives are saved annually because people wear seat belts.

We believe it’s a matter of common sense to wear a seat belt. It also may be a matter of life or death.