Buckle Up Campaign 05/19/99

PHONE: 961-2332
MAY 19, 1999


The Hawaii County Police Department has joined thousands of agencies nationwide in “Operation ABC Mobilization: America Buckles Up Children,” declaring zero tolerance for drivers with unbuckled kids.

Throughout the month of May leading up to Memorial Day on Monday, May 31, drivers who don’t buckle up children are being stopped and enforcement actions taken.

“It’s time for zero tolerance for motorists who allow young children to ride when they’re not buckled up,” said Sergeant Samuel Jelsma, head of the Traffic Enforcement Unit.

Nationwide, six out of 10 children killed in crashes are unbuckled.

“Many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented if the driver had just seen to it that the child was buckled up,” said Janet Dewey, Executive Director of the Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign.

More than 2,000 children die in traffic crashes nationwide each year, making it the leading cause of death for children. Another 300,000 children are injured in crashes.

“Because adults are breaking the law, children are being crippled and killed in car crashes every day,” Dewey said.

“Every child in the nation should be protected by being properly restrained. That’s why we are calling for zero tolerance for drivers with unbuckled kids in every state every day of the year.”

Despite the grim statistics, progress is being made in large part because of high visibility enforcement efforts like the Operation ABC Mobilization. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the Mobilizations in 1998 played a key role in prompting more than 19 million more Americans to buckle up — the largest, single-year increase in seat belt use in eight years. The government estimates that if these Americans continue to wear their seat belts, 1,500 lives will be saved this year.

Hawaii’s child passenger law (HRS Chapter 291-11.5) requires that a child under 3 years old must be “properly restrained in a child passenger restraint system approved by the United States Department of Transportation.” Children 3 to 4 years old must be “properly restrained in a child passenger restraint system approved by the United States Department of Transportation at the time of its manufacture or ensure that the child is restrained by a seat belt assembly.”

Officers will also be stepping up enforcement of adult seat belt laws, because it’s a proven fact that most adults who don’t buckle up themselves, don’t buckle up kids. Recent research finds that an unbuckled driver is three times more likely to restrain a child passenger.

The Operation ABC Mobilization is sponsored by the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is part of an ongoing national initiative to increase belt use and save lives.

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