BCSO cracks down on those not wearing seatbelts

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 27, 2000

Greenville, Alabama drivers who don't buckle up kids beware, Butler County Sheriffs Office is launching another major enforcement blitz as part of a nationwide crackdown to stop and ticket drivers with unbuckled children in the car. This time citizens can get involved in the effort to protect children through a National Safety Council toll-free number to report vehicles with unbuckled children.

"The Butler County Sheriff's Of fice has a policy of zero tolerance for deadbeat drivers – drivers who fail to buckle up their child passengers – and we will stop and ticket every one we see," said Chief Deputy Kenny Harden. "We are grateful that during this mobilization the public can also help protect kids from the leading risk they face through the National Safety Council's 1-800-764-5755 hotline."

During the Operation ABC Mobilization, starting today through Memorial Day, officers are setting up CHECKPOINTS AND INCREASED PATROLS. And citizens can dial toll-free-1-800-764-5755 to report the license number of vehicles with unbuckled children. The National Safety Council will send a letter to owners of vehicles that have been reported, cautioning them that allowing a child to ride unbuckled is dangerous and illegal, and if they are stopped by the police they could be ticketed and fined.

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According to the Butler County Sheriff's Office, officers participate in the mobilizations because they work. The mobilization has grown from 1,000 agencies when it began in 1997 to more than 7,000 this May. "Our officers would gladly write tickets because they know that's what it takes to prevent the unspeakable tragedies that can occur when adults allow a child to ride unbuckled." said Sheriff Diane Harris.

The last three years of nationwide enforcement drivers have significantly contributed to an increase in child restraint use and a decline in child fatalities. But there is still more work to do; one out of four children ride unrestrained, meaning 15 million children are at deadly risk. Traffic crashes are still the number one killer of children, with six out of ten children who die being completely unbuckled. Nearly half of them

would be alive it the adult driver had made sure they were restrained.

The public has zero tolerance for unbuckled children. In a nationwide survey more than seven of ten people surveyed agree with the statement, "people who fail to buckle up their child passengers should be considered guilty of child endangerment."

"People tell me all the time how frustrated and powerless they feel when they see an unbuckled child riding in a car," said Jane Dewey, executive director of the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign, a program of the National Safety Council. "This week there is something they can do about it."

According to a recent survey, deadbeat drivers themselves admit that it will take strong laws and fines to get them to restrain their child passengers. The National Safety Council hopes that letters reminding drivers that they can be ticketed and fined for their offense could prevent a potential tragedy.

"We are thrilled that now citizens have a way to participate in the mobilization more directly," said Sheriff Diane Harris from the Butler County Sheriff's Office. "It's up to all of us to protect children and to promote zero tolerance for unbuckled children."

Officers will also be stepping up enforcement of adult seat belt laws, because it's a proven fact that most adults, who don't buckle up themselves, don't buckle up kids. Research has found that buckled drivers are three times more likely to restrain their child passengers than drivers who don't buckle up.

In partnership with law enforcement and state highway safety offices, the Operation ABC Mobilization is sponsored by the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board. The Mobilization is a part of Buckle Up America, an ongoing national initiative to increase belt use and save lives.