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Seat Belt Sting Nabs 279

By Lookout Staff

Dec. 3 -- Police handed out 279 seat belt citations during a two-week sting that included the Thanksgiving Day Holiday.

The citations were handed out between November 17 and 30 during the National Buckle Up America Mobilization. The sting was part of the California Seat Belt Compliance Campaign, which targets the more than 3 million Californians who don't buckle up.

"Since most crashes occur within five miles of home," said Chief James T. Butts, Jr., "wearing a seat belt and using child safety seats is the most effective action a person can take to protect themselves and their loved ones from injury or death in a traffic collision."

This year, the seat belt use rate in California is 91.2 percent, but the 8.8 percent of the population that fails to buckle up represents more than 3 million people, or the population of 21 states, police said.

Last year, 1,268 unbelted vehicle occupants lost their lives in traffic collisions in California. Of these, 571 lives, or approximately 45 percent, could have been saved if they had buckled up.

Among the common excuses researchers have found for not buckling up are: "I forgot," "I'm only taking a short trip," and "Seat belts are uncomfortable."

The recent sting was accompanied by a month-long public information campaign that featured the slogans "Seat Belts. Remember. Or be remembered" and "Seat belts or body bags. One size fits all!" The messages were disseminated in radio and TV ads and on billboards.

Overtime pay for officers deployed to enforce the seat belt and child passenger safety laws was paid with a grant from the Office of Traffic Safety, obtained through the California Business, Transportation & Housing Agency.

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