RCMP on P.E.I. issued $130,000 in fines last year for drivers not wearing seat belts — a 30 per cent increase from 2012.

The Highway Safety Department said police handed out 473 tickets for $275.

“There seems to be a die-hard group of Islanders who just don't get it in regard to wearing a seat belt,” said Sgt. Kevin Baillie of Kings County RCMP.

He said belts save lives. When people don’t buckle up, officers like him have to see the results.

“Anybody who has been a police officer for any amount of time [has seen] where someone was killed or seriously injured that likely wouldn't have been had they been wearing their seat belt,” he said.

Lowest buckle-up rate in Canada

A 2010 Transport Canada study found 82 per cent of rural Islanders wore seat belts. That’s the lowest rate in Canada.

RCMP have increased enforcement in an attempt to improve on that rate. More officers are patrolling on foot and even out of uniform.

“It can be difficult when you're driving in a police vehicle to see people not wearing a seat belt. But at a stop sign or other intersection, if you have a police officer on foot in plainclothes, it's much easier to detect,” Baillie said.