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Click the belt or get a ticket

Connersville Police Lt. Ryan Sherwood, Operation Pull Over coordinator, kicks off the Click It or Ticket seat belt usage awareness campaign at news conference Wednesday. It’s being recorded by Local TV3 Assistant Director Justin Roberts. The new campaign begins today.

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

Connersville lags behind the state in use of seat belts and shoulder harnesses but the city’s drivers showed substantial improvement during the past year.

Rather than just begin the new Operation Pull Over Blitz 98 today without notice, the Connersville Police Department kicked off the Click It or Ticket campaign with a news conference to discuss the importance of wearing seat belts.

CPD Lt. Ryan Sherwood, the department’s Operation Pull Over coordinator, said the campaign is a national event. Drivers and passengers who do not wear restraining devices will be subject to receiving a ticket no matter where they drive.

The campaign will continue through the Memorial Day weekend, which starts the summer travel season, he said.

“Why do we warn the public before it begins? Because we respond to crashes and see the preventable deaths and painful injuries for motorists not buckling up,” he said.

Connersville had an 81% seat belt use rate in April, up from 73% during that same period last year.

“It’s good that it’s gone up and we believe that’s through our increased enforcement activities, but we still have a lot of work to do because the seat belt compliance rate for Indiana is 93.4%,” Sherwood pointed out.

Local statistics are obtained by observing 100 vehicles at five locations in the city. The number of drivers and passengers are counted, with and without restraints. It’s done before every seat belt blitz.

Statistics indicate a person is 10 times more likely to be killed in an accident if unrestrained, he said.

“We hear anecdotal stories from people when we stop them that they heard the one time, one guy who wasn’t wearing a seat belt who would have been killed if he had used the seat belt,” he said. “The statistics just don’t bear that out. Seat belts are proven to save lives, and they do.”

In 14 years of law enforcement duty and the many crashes he has responded to, not once has he observed a situation where a seat belt caused an injury that would not have been if not wearing restraint, Sherwood said.

Unrestrained persons inside a vehicle during a collision become a “missile,” an object being thrown around the vehicle, possibly causing injury to others in the vehicle, he said. Wearing a belt is protection not just for one person, but everyone in it.

Restraints are designed to be worn in a specific way and must be that way to be in compliance with the law.

The lap belt should be placed across the hip and pelvis. The shoulder belt should come down the center of the chest, he explained. Do not wear it under the arm or behind the back because it will not be effective.

If a person has trouble fitting the belt, aftermarket and original vehicle manufacturer adjusters and extenders can be purchased, he said.

“Traffic collisions are the No. 1 killer of children ages 1-13,” Sherwood said. “It’s important to properly restrain children. Any child under the age of 8 should be in a car seat or booster seat.”

CPD Deputy Chief Robbie Fee said the department receives frequent calls about the proper use of restraints for children.

 

To learn about proper seats for children and their use, go to www.safercar.gov/therightseat.

Click It or Tickrt involves law enforcement officers from agencies working overtime to observe motorists who are not wearing their seat belts. Overtime is funded through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.