Police focus on seat-belt safety
Published 12:00 am, Friday, November 20, 2015
The Darien Police Department will be continue a holiday tradition by checking if motorists are wearing seat belts during the week of Thanksgiving.
The national Click It or Ticket campaign kicks off Monday, Nov. 23, and runs through Monday, Nov. 30. In addition to checking that seat belts are being used, police check for proper use of car seats and booster seats for young people.
Results of last year’s campaign suggested more motorists were abusing the law. Seat-belt violations over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend — not the full week of the campaign — rose from 170 to 314 on state roads in 2014.
According to a national highway safety database, 62 percent of people killed during the overnight hours on U.S. roadways were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident. Seat-belt safety compliance is at its lowest point at night, according to a statistical analysis.
An estimated 12,000 lives are saved annual by seat belts, according to studies. Research suggests safety belts reduce the number of serious traffic injuries by 50 percent and fatalities by 60 to 70 percent.
Fines for seat-belt violations range from $25 to $100 in New York state and up to $92 in Connecticut. All front seat passengers are required to wear seat belts while traveling, though passengers over 18 years of age in the rear of a vehicle are not required to wear a seat belt unless the driver is less than 18. Everyone under 18 must wear a seat belt in the front and rear of all vehicles. The fine for 16- and 17 year olds who violate the law is $120. In the event of the law being broken by a passenger under 16, the operator of the vehicle is fined.
State law requires that children under 1 and less than 20 pounds must be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat, a violation that carries a $92 fine. Passengers over 1 and less than 7 who weigh less than 60 pounds are required to be secured in a child safety seat or booster seat, a violation that carries a $92 fine. Once a child is over 7 years old and weighs more 60 pounds, he or she could be belted in a regular passenger seat.
The last Click It or Ticket campaign was held during Memorial Day weekend in May.
In 2014, state police reported there were almost twice as many motor vehicle accidents compared with the previous Thanksgiving weekend, including nine more DUI arrests.
The current seat belt usage rate in Connecticut is 88 percent, compared with a national average of 84 percent, according to Darien police.