Police use $10,000 grant to encourage seat belt use

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 3, 2000

For Natchez police officers who have seen how terrible car accidents can be, seat belt usage is critical.

But last week, police did a survey and determined only 42 percent of Natchez travelers were wearing seat belts. This is up slightly from 38 percent in May but still below the 55 percent state-average and the 68 percent national-average.

So officers are hoping a $10,000 grant from the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety will help.

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&uot;Too often, I’ve seen the tragedy of adults and children seriously injured or killed in automobile crashes, simply because they weren’t wearing a seat belt,&uot;&160;said Charles Woods, public relations officer, for the Natchez Police Department.

&uot;I’ve seen the devastating effects it has on families and on the community.&uot;

In upcoming weeks, the police department will be using the grant funding for promotional items and to provide overtime salary for an officer who will do nothing but deal with traffic issues — such as seat-belt and child restraint violations.

There will be no warning and no excuses for not following the existing seat-belt and child restraint safety laws, Woods said.

Car crashes are also the number one killer and disabler of children and even a sudden stop in a vehicle can injure a child, said a flier from the Natchez Police Department.

So officers want to make sure people are aware of existing child restraint laws.

All children less than 8-years-old must wear safety belts or ride in a child safety seat when riding in a motor vehicle. Children less than 4-years-old must be fastened in a child-safety seat.

Violators can be fined and since a child-restraint violation is a primary offense, officers can stop a vehicle carrying an unrestrained child even if the driver has not committed any other traffic violation.