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Beginning this week, area police are participating in a two-week nationwide campaign to crack down on seat belt usage.
According to law enforcement officials, Click It or Ticket officially began Monday and will run through June 2.
“Too many drivers and passengers on the road at night are not wearing their seat belts, and it all too often ends in tragedy,” said Lt. Billy Watts with the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office in a news release. “Our goal is to save more lives, so deputies will be out enforcing seat belt laws day and night.”
According to the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, of the 746 people killed in 2012 on Kentucky roadways, 592 were in automobiles.
Of those in motor vehicles, 322, or 54.4 percent, were not wearing seat belts, according to the office.
Failure to wear a seat belt is a $25 fine, according to police.
Elizabethtown Sgt. Tim Cleary said that fine applies to the driver of the vehicle. Even if it is the passenger who fails to wear the seat belt, the driver is responsible for the fine because he or she is in control of the car, he said.
Radcliff Police spokesman Bryce Shumate said officers can determine if a vehicle occupant is wearing a seat belt by looking into the car.
“You can see a shoulder harness at eye level when you look into a car,” he said.
Norman Chaffins, spokesman for Kentucky State Police Post 4, said state troopers are implementing roving patrols and traffic safety checkpoints throughout Memorial Day weekend as part of the Click It or Ticket campaign.
In addition, he said Post 4 has identified areas with the highest volume of wrecks involving occupants who failed to wear seat belts and will be amplifying enforcement in those locations.
As of Tuesday, 201 people have died this year on Kentucky roadways and 82 of those were not wearing seat belts.
As a long-time accident reconstructionist with KSP, Chaffins said he’s seen motorists walk away from wrecks that left the vehicle so mangled it was difficult to discern it had been a car. On the other hand, he added he’s investigated wrecks that killed the driver but left the vehicle in operable condition.
The variable, he said, is whether the driver is wearing a seat belt.
“The chances of surviving a crash are dramatically heightened by wearing a seat belt,” Chaffins said. “It’s just common sense,” he added.
Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or firstname.lastname@example.org.