Kentucky State Police troopers have been out in full force with safety check points this week and will be seen even more during the national “Click It or Ticket” Memorial Day campaign.
The seat belt enforcement mobilization kicked off on Monday and will run through June 3 in an effort to help save lives by cracking down on those who don’t buckle up.
Despite a wealth of data showing that seat belts save lives — and also despite implementation of a primary seat belt law — Kentucky’s 83 percent seat belt usage rate lags behind the national rate of 86 percent. Therefore, the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) is supporting state and local law enforcement across the country in their efforts to strongly enforce seat belt laws around the clock.
KSP Commander Leslie Smith said the Post 10 troopers servicing Harlan, Bell and Knox counties, will be participating in the campaign along with other law enforcement agencies in each county.
“This is an important campaign that we take pride in participating in each year,” Smith said. “Our main concern is safety for all motorists and that they obey the law while operating a motor vehicle on the highway year-round. Driving smart can not only save your life, but the life of another motorist as well. Too many times, a motorist not being mindful of their actions has brought undue grief upon families.”
Smith said children riding in vehicles without a seat belt or in a child restraint seat is an area taken very seriously by the state police.
“Not having your child buckled up in your vehicle is not worth the lifetime of heartache and grief you will experience if your child is killed in a motor vehicle crash. It only takes a few seconds to buckle them up,” Smith said.
Kentucky’s roadway fatalities increased last year, going from 721 deaths in 2011 to 746 in 2012. More than half of those killed in motor vehicles were not restrained.
The KOHS awarded more than $96,800 in federal funds to 18 state and local police agencies across the commonwealth to help bolster seat belt enforcement during the campaign. The funding is provided through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
According to NHTSA, seat belts, when worn correctly, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat occupants by 45 percent — and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans.
Middlesboro Chief of Police Jeff Sharpe said the Middlesboro Police Department would be participating in the campaign as well. “We will be out there in force,” said Sharpe. Sharpe also said there may be check points set up throughout the weekend.