Howell police officers will shine spotlight on seat belt use

Staff Writer

Howell police officers will shine spotlight on seat belt use BY KATHY BARATTA Staff Writer

Staff Writer

HOWELL — If drivers won’t wear a seat belt in order to save their lives, Howell police are hoping they will wear one in order to save themselves from getting a $40 ticket. Officers will be strictly enforcing seat belt laws during the nationwide "Click It or Ticket" initiative that continues this week.

Traffic safety officer Matthew Bishop said Thanksgiving traditionally kicks off the holiday season with an increase in traffic volume on the nation’s roads. He said the seat belt campaign will use this time to advance its message through a "strong enforcement push."

Bishop said Howell’s enforcement of New Jersey’s seat belt and child restraint laws will include seat belt inspection points, saturation patrols and other special enforcement activities.

According to Bishop, high-visibility enforcement of safety belt use and child passenger restraint devices is an immediate action law enforcement officers can take to change public behavior while letting the public know that passenger and driver safety is a law enforcement priority everywhere.

Bishop said the high visibility enforcement of "Click It or Ticket" is based on years of research that demonstrated that for most people who don’t wear seat belts, especially younger drivers, the possibility of getting a ticket is a more credible threat than the threat of injury or death.

"That is why the Howell Police Depart-ment is doing everything we can to get the word out to those who face the greatest risk, teens and young adults," said Bishop. "By buckling their seat belts, teens could save more than just money, they could save their own life."

According to Bishop, nationally, safety belt use is up to 79 percent, the highest it has ever been. But that also means 21 percent of people do not use the safety devices and in 2001, he said, 5,341 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 20 died as a result of not wearing a seat belt. Thousands more teenagers were injured in motor vehicle accidents.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among young people. Half of those killed would be alive today if they had simply put on their seat belt, he said.

Bishop said what most people — young and old — do not realize is that in a motor vehicle crash there are actually three collisions: the first is one vehicle hitting another vehicle; the second is a person’s body striking the interior of a vehicle; and the third is the person’s internal organs smashing against his bones.

Bishop said the damage done by the second and third collisions can be greatly reduced or even eliminated by wearing a seat belt.

Bishop said police will concentrate, but not limit, their efforts along the 8 miles of Route 9 that runs through Howell.

"Buckle up, it could save your life and save you money," he said.