WINONA LAKE — The Kosciusko County Traffic Safety Partnership is conducting extra seat belt patrols.
The partnership is participating in the national Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign. From Monday, May 17, to Sunday, June 6, officers will be out in greater numbers seeking to educate motorists about the importance of wearing a seat belt.
The high-visibility patrols are paid for with funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).
“Part of our job as law enforcement is to educate and that includes reminding drivers and passengers that buckling up isn’t just a suggestion, it’s the law,” said Craig Allebach, traffic safety partnership grant administrator. “If these extra patrols wake people up to the dangers of not wearing a seat belt, we’ll consider our mission a success.”
On any given day, more than 90% of motorists can be found wearing their seat belts. Unfortunately, the small percentage of people who choose not to buckle up make up a disproportionate amount of the fatalities that occur every year on Indiana roads.
Between 2015 and 2019, seat belts have saved more than 69,000 lives in the U.S., according to NHTSA.
Last year, more than 800 people were killed on Indiana roads, of which, 565 occurred in passenger vehicles. Sadly, 364 of those, or 6 out of 10, were not wearing seat belts.
Out of any age group, male drivers, particularly those between the ages of 15 and 34, were the most likely to be found not wearing a seat belt at the time of a crash. Additionally, individuals not wearing seat belts were three times more likely to get injured in a crash when the driver was speeding and seven times more likely when the driver was impaired.
“If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that life is precious,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI executive director. “We expect more people will be venturing out and taking road trips this spring, and wearing a seat belt is still the best way to keep you and your loved ones safe on the road.”
According to the department, officers will be writing citations and conducting high-visibility patrols during the day but especially at night, when unrestrained driving is at its peak (midnight to 4 a.m.). Under Indiana’s primary seat belt law, officers can stop and cite drivers and passengers just for failing to wear a seat belt.
Drivers can also be cited for each unbuckled passenger under the age of 16, and children under 8 must be properly restrained in a federally approved child or booster seat.
Throughout the campaign, officers will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt enforcement, which means anyone caught not wearing one will receive a citation.
Parents and caregivers can choose the safest car seat for their child by visiting therightseat.com. To find a certified child passenger safety technician who can inspect and assist with the installation of a car seat, visit www.childseat.in.gov.