Officers plan strong message encouraging use of seatbelts
PASSING THE TEST n Gideon K. Chepkwony of Kenya, currently a Meridian Community College student, was one of dozens of drivers checked at roadside safety check points by officer Jay Arrington Monday. The checks are part of the nation's largest crackdown on drivers who violate seatbelt laws. Below, Deputy Joe Boman has zero tolerance for drivers who are not wearing their seatbelts. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
May 22, 2001
Lauderdale County Maj. Ward Calhoun is just one of dozens of local law enforcement officers who are fed up with drivers who refuse to wear their seatbelts.
Calhoun, deputies with his department and officers with the Meridian Police Department are joining "Click It or Ticket," a two-week national effort the largest in the nation's history to cite seatbelt violators, issue warnings and educate the public on seatbelt use.
Meridian Police Capt. Tommy Miller shares Calhoun's sentiments.
City officials estimate 64 percent of drivers regularly wear their seatbelts, Miller said. In the county, the figures are lower, with an average of half of all drivers not wearing seatbelts, Calhoun said.
Both Miller and Calhoun said their collective goal is to write as many seatbelt citations as possible, letting the public know they're serious about enforcing the law.
Calhoun said his deputies will show no mercy.
Miller said anyone who has a primary offense, such as no driver's license, a suspended license, no tag, expired tag or equipment violation had better beware.
To pass the roadside safety check, drivers should be armed with a valid driver's license, proof of motor vehicle insurance, current vehicle registration, tag and inspection sticker and their seatbelt clicked in place.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you know?
In 1999, 43 of the 60 children in Mississippi who died in car accidents were unrestrained.
Last year, 556 of the 746 adults in Mississippi died in car accidents while not wearing a seatbelt.
When a driver is buckled, restraint use for children up to age 4 is 86 percent; when a driver is unbuckled, child restraint use drops to 26 percent.
During the Memorial Day weekend, 10,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide will intensify seatbelt enforcement in every state to lower these figures.
Safety experts predict that the Click It or Ticket campaign will prevent an estimated 10,427 injuries and save more than 600 lives each year as a result of increased seatbelt use.