Kentucky State Police starting seatbelt program

November 14, 2003|GARY MOYERS

In the summer of 2001, Kentucky State Police announced a seatbelt enforcement program designed to target and ticket motorists who failed to buckle their seatbelts.

The program, called "Click It or Ticket," was canceled after Kentucky's Attorney General issued an opinion that tickets for seatbelt violations only were illegal because the state's seat belt law is considered a secondary offense.

Since then, legislation that would make not buckling up a primary offense has been introduced - and defeated - twice in the General Assembly.

Still, seatbelt enforcement is considered such a high priority by KSP that a similar campaign will run Nov. 17-30 statewide.

Monday, KSP will begin the 14-day program called "Buckle Up - It's The Law And It's Enforced," but this year there will be a major difference.


Drivers may not be ticketed solely because of a seatbelt violation.

"By law, a violation of the seatbelt ordinance is a secondary violation, and drivers cannot be stopped or ticketed unless they commit a primary offense," said Sergeant Phil Crumpton, public affairs officer for KSP's Headquarters Division in Frankfort. "If that's the only violation a driver commits, whether in a checkpoint or when stopped by a moving patrol, a ticket cannot be issued."

During the campaign, KSP officers will work with local law enforcement agencies to increase patrols and set up traffic safety checkpoints in high crash locations. The program is being heavily promoted by radio and television advertisements, and Crumpton said officers will be on the lookout for any and all offenses.

"Of course, we'll be looking for impaired drivers, but we're also looking for any safety violation," he said. "That could include license violations, no registration, lack of child safety restraints, no insurance, speeding - anything that is a violation of the law. There will be no leniency; if you violate the law, you will be ticketed."

Crumpton said the threat of a citation for seatbelt violations, especially among young drivers, has proven to be a greater incentive to buckle up than the threat of injury or death.

"Young drivers believe they'll never be in an accident, but they're so concerned about getting a ticket they might buckle up for that reason alone," he said.

The "Buckle Up Kentucky" campaign is partially funded by Federal Highway Administration grant money, Crump said, and is designed to promote the use of seatbelts and child restraint devices in a state where fewer people buckle up than the national average by 13 percent.

While national safety belt use stands at 75 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration, Kentucky's rate is only 62 percent. In 2002, traffic crashes caused more than 900 deaths and 51,000 injuries in Kentucky, and 65 percent of those killed were not properly restrained, according to KSP traffic statistics.

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