Law enforcement will out 24/7 to nab the unrestrained –
By Patricia Beech –
Law enforcement will be on the lookout for drivers with unfastened seat belts during the national “Click it or Ticket” campaign that began Monday, May 21.
To kick off the local campaign, the Adams County Board of Commissioners on Monday issued a proclamation declaring May 21 through June 3 “Click It or Ticket” week in Adams County.
Members of the Adams County Safe Communities Coalition (an organization devoted to improving safety and health conditions in local communities) were present for the reading of the proclamation Monday morning.
Commissioner Ty Pell said the proclamation was especially meaningful to him this year.
“My daughter had a wreck last year about this time,” he said. “It totaled her car and the state trooper said if she hadn’t been wearing her seat belt, she could have been killed, so for me, encouraging people to wear seat belts is very important.”
According to Debbie Ryan, coordinator for the Adams County Safe Communities Program, nearly half (48%) of the people killed in vehicle crashes in 2016 were not wearing seat belts.
“It’s alarming that among young adults age 18-34 who were killed in crashes in 2016, more than half of them were completely unrestrained,” she says. “I would have thought that demographic would have been the one most compliant with wearing their seat belts, but statistics nationwide show that not to be true.”
Ryan said participating law enforcement will take a “no-excuses approach” to enforcing the seat belt law during the nationwide Click it or Ticket campaign.
“If the enforcement crackdown wakes people up to the dangers of unrestrained driving, we’ll consider it a success,” she said.
Several members of the Safe Communities Coalition joined Ryan on Monday to participate in a safety exposition held in the West Union Tractor Supply Company parking lot including: the General Electric Peebles Test Facility; the Adams County Regional Medical Center; the Adams County Economic Development Office; and the Adams County Health Department.
“We’re here to bring awareness to this important traffic safety message,” said Ryan.
Additionally, representatives from Health Source of Ohio; the Counseling Center; the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV), along with the Adams- Brown County Head Start Program set up booths in the parking area to support the campaign and distribute information about their organizations.
Kristen Herman, representing the Counseling Center said, “We’re all here to help raise awareness about Click it or Ticket, while getting the word out about our own services.”
Ramona Applegate, the program manager for Adams-Brown Early Head Start was recruiting kids and offering free child car seats to qualified parents.
She said the child safety seats car are distributed to those “who might otherwise not be able to acquire them”.
“Families must meet our guidelines, which are the WIC guidelines,” she said, “If they do, we can give them free convertible and booster seats to help make sure their children are safe.”
According to Applegate, the Early Head Start program also offers a brief educational class about car seat safety, sizing, and installation.
The safety event was paid for by a Safe Communities grant from the Ohio Department of Safety, which is distributed through the Adams County Commissioners office, with the Adams County Economic Development Office acting as the Safe Communities fiscal agent.
“It’s a $25,000 grant and our charge is to educate the residents of Adams County on four traffic safety messages: Click it or Ticket; Don’t Drink and Drive; Don’t Text and Drive; and Look Out for Motorcycles,” said Ryan. “One of the things we’re charged with doing is the kick off for this national mobilization – that’s what we’re doing here now to raise awareness about the importance of wearing your seat belt.”
Trooper David Ellis says the Ohio State Highway Patrol does a lot of seat belt enforcement, especially in Adams County.
“It’s more of a problem in rural areas,” he said Monday during the safety expo. “Most crashes happen when people are running errands into town and they don’t bother to fasten their seat belt. “
Ellis has participated in multiple crash investigations in which serious injuries were sustained because the people involved were not restrained.
He says dealing with accidents involving “people who don’t use seat belts is one of the more difficult parts” of his job.
“Long story short,” he says. “Seat belts save lives – wear yours.”
Lt. Randy McElfresh, Commander of the Georgetown Post of the Ohio State Patrol, and member of the Adams County Safe Communities Coalition added “We lose community members every year because they did not buckle their seat belts”.
McElfresh says he hopes local community members will help get the word out,
“Help us spread this life-saving message before one more friend or family member is killed as a result of this senseless inaction,” he says. “Seat belts save lives, and everyone – front seat and back, child and adult – needs to remember to buckle up – every trip, every time.”