Monday, May 24, 2010

Safety Belt Enforcement Campaign Going Strong

Deputies are looking for drivers and passengers who don’t buckle up during a safety belt enforcement campaign under way.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is participating in a “Click It or Ticket” safety belt campaign. The first phase ran from March 1 to March 15 and the second phase begins Monday and ends Sunday, June 10.

Five hundred and sixty two traffic citations were issued during the first phase.

The purpose of the special enforcement effort is to increase safety belt use and to reduce fatalities on the roads in Collier County. In 2009, 22 of the people killed in traffic crashes in Collier County weren’t wearing their seat belts.

The fine for not wearing a seat belt is $113 in Collier County. The fine for a child restraint violation is $163.

Collier County continues to have the highest safety belt compliance rate – 92 percent – in Florida, according to the state Department of Transportation.

“The goal is 100 percent voluntary compliance,” said Sgt. Chris Gonzalez of CCSO’s Safety Traffic Enforcement Bureau.

Deputies will conduct various countywide heightened enforcement details and efforts to draw attention to the importance of safety belt use.

During the 2010 campaign, the CCSO has once again participated in a survey overseen by the Florida Department of Transportation. Deputies closely monitor three locations during the campaign timeframe and then calculate the average compliance rates based on their enforcement. The outcome of deputies’ efforts will help the state and local jurisdictions monitor seat belt compliance and assess future law enforcement needs.

“Our agency has garnered many accolades over the years for our enforcement efforts regarding occupant protection. That is, when a seat belt violation is observed an enforcement action is taken (written warning or citation),” Sgt. Gonzalez added.

CCSO reminds motorists that drivers in Collier County can be pulled over by deputies for not buckling up. In May 2009 Florida became the 28th state to have primary offense safety belt laws. Previously, drivers could only be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt if they were pulled over for another offense, such as speeding. The recent law allows deputies to stop drivers who aren’t wearing their seat belt.