Police launch seat belt enforcement campaign

By Joe Beck

Law enforcement agencies throughout the Northern Shenandoah Valley will be paying extra attention to seat belt enforcement as part of the national Click It Or Ticket campaign that started Monday and runs through June 2.

Front Royal Police Chief Norman Shiflett said local police are receiving money from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the state Division of Motor Vehicles to support their participation in the campaign.

“The goal is to let drivers be aware that they should be wearing their seat belts at all times while riding in their motor vehicle,” Shiflett said.

Federal and state officials cite data on the importance of seat belts in saving lives on the road.

Recent data show:

• 77 percent of accident victims ejected from their vehicles die from injuries.

• 62 percent of those vehicle occupants ages 18 to 34 who died in rural crashes at night were unbuckled.

• 3,341 lives lost in traffic accidents could have been saved if vehicle occupants ages five and older were buckled up.

Shenandoah County Lt. Wesley Dellinger said the Sheriff’s Office is planning 10 extra shifts between May 20 and June 2 as part of the campaign.

Seat belt law violations remain secondary offenses, which means police in Virginia can issue tickets only after they have detected a driver breaking another traffic law. Dellinger said the grant for Click It Or Ticket It is also being used to crack down on other offenses.

“We look for multiple things like speeding and DUI,” Dellinger said.

New Market police Sgt. Chris Rinker said the extra enforcement is for the safety of the motorists.

“The most important thing for them to know is when they’re buckled up and they’re in a crash, it may save their life,” Rinker said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com