Seat belt usage rises

Published 9:51 pm Saturday, June 11, 2011

Suffolk police officers paid special attention to seat belts in recent weeks, and the extra effort apparently paid off.

Seat belt usage in Suffolk rose 11 percentage points after the two-week “Click It or Ticket” enforcement campaign, according to a city news release. Observations were made before and after the campaign at the intersection of Main Street and Constance Road, the city’s busiest intersection.

During the campaign, officers issued 288 safety belt citations and 41 child restraint citations out of a total of 1,204 summonses. The campaign used 100 hours of overtime paid for by a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration grant, as well as the officers’ regular work hours, to conduct the enforcement.


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“Our officers worked very hard during this campaign, and we are proud of their efforts,” Suffolk Police Maj. Stephanie Burch said. “Using seatbelts saves lives, and our change in seat belt usage demonstrates that public education and enforcement are the keys to changing behavior.”

An observation survey before the campaign found that only about 78 percent of drivers at the busy intersection were wearing seat belts. After the campaign, 89 percent had their seat belts on.

This year’s enforcement campaign especially focused on nighttime seat belt use. In 2009, nearly 11,600 passenger vehicle occupants died in motor vehicle crashes nationwide between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.