Archive for Thursday, May 27, 2004

Grant allows police to enforce seat belt laws

May 27, 2004

Those choosing not to buckle up in vehicles run the risk of paying for it.

Baldwin police will be paying extra attention the next few weeks to whether those in vehicles are using seat belts, writing tickets to those not wearing them.

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As part of a national "Click It or Ticket" campaign, Baldwin officers will be spending the next few weeks enforcing seat belt laws.

Police Chief Mike McKenna said the campaign is possible through a national grant, which will allow states to pay overtime for local and state officers to enforce seat belt usage. Baldwin received $5,000 as part of the grant to pay for the overtime of officers to focus on the Click It or Ticket campaign.

"So from May 24 to June 6, we'll be emphasizing seat belt usage," McKenna said.

Though officers still won't pull over vehicles when they observe seat belts not being used, he said, they will be writing tickets when vehicles are stopped for other infractions. He said officers will also be running check lanes to make sure seat belts are being worn.

McKenna said Baldwin will really focus on the campaign in the next few weeks, especially since Kansas is one of the worst states -- No. 46 in the nation -- when it comes to wearing seat belts.

"In Kansas last year, over 500 people were killed in automobile accidents," he said. "Probably at least 200 people of those weren't wearing their seat belts and would probably be alive today if they had been wearing them."

He said during the campaign, officers will place a lot of their attention on teen and young adult drivers.

"I think it's important, because my observations have been for a large part of the younger people don't wear seat belts when driving a car," he said. "Two out of every five deaths for teenagers are as a result of a traffic accident."

McKenna said he knows some people will not be pleased when they receive tickets for not wearing seat belts, but he believed it was important the laws be enforced.

"I would rather personally have someone mad at me because they were required to wear their seat belt than be dead because they weren't wearing their seat belt," he said.

"Our officers will be working overtime to enforce these rules to get people to develop the habit of wearing their seat belts," he said. "We want everyone safe."

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