Vidalia police: Always buckle up

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 12, 1999

VIDALIA, La. – In his years with law enforcement, Frank Webb has seen too many children die in traffic accidents because they weren’t properly restrained – and he doesn’t want to repeat the experience.

All the more reason for Webb, traffic director for the Vidalia Police Department, to coordinate the department’s participation in the Operation ABC (America Buckles up Children) program Nov. 22-28.

&uot;I’ll never forget the first time I&160;arrived at the scene of a crash were the victim was an unbuckled child,&uot;&160;Webb said. &uot;That is why I&160;am so committed to these mobilizations.&uot;

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For the last two years, Operation ABC has taken place nationwide during holidays. Participating law enforcement agencies send officers out in force to ticket adults with unrestrained children in their cars.

Since the program began, restraint use by children ages 1 to 4 has risen from 60 to 87 percent. And the number of children dying in traffic crashes has dropped by 12.3 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

But nationwide, traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 14. Nearly six out of 10 children who die in crashes are unbuckled, but almost half of them would be alive if they had been restrained.

Last year in Louisiana, 592 children were killed in crashes – and 80 percent of those who died were unrestrained.

&uot;We still have work to do,&uot;&160;said Jane Dewey, executive director of the Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign. &uot;Deadbeat drivers who fail to take responsibility for protecting their child passengers are still placing millions of children at deadly risk every day.&uot;

Bystanders should not be shy about telling drivers to buckle up unrestrained children, Webb said. &uot;Everyone must make sure that relatives, neighbors and friends know that letting a child ride unbuckled – no matter how short the ride – is always life-threatening and never worth the risk,&uot;&160;he said.

He added that Vidalia police will be on the lookout for unbuckled adults as well.

&uot;Motorists who don’t wear seat belts are statistically more likely to be seriously injured or killed in a traffic crash,&uot;&160;Webb said.

Operation ABC is sponsored by the Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.