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Police effort will promote seatbelt usage

by Mark Vasto
Landmark reporter

The Platte City Police Department has announced that it will participate in a nationwide seatbelt and child restraint enforcement campaign. The effort will begin on Nov. 17 and is scheduled to conclude on Dec. 1, 2003.

Utilizing a $1,500 grant from the Missouri Department of Transportation, the campaign is designed to increase seat belt and child restraint usage among drivers.

Missouri's seatbelt law is a secondary one, meaning that law enforcement cannot stop a driver for the sole reason of enforcing seatbelt laws.

Typically seatbelt violations are added to other infractions. In recent statewide seatbelt campaigns, many law enforcement agencies have used the campaign to issue "zero-tolerance" ticketing practices. Platte City Chief of Police Joe McHale said that won't neccesarily be the case here.

"We're not out there to give everyone tickets," McHale said. "We're looking for compliance and cooperation."

Missouri typically lags behind the rest of the nation in seatbelt usage. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTA), only 68% of Missouri drivers use seatbelts as opposed to the national average of 75%. Studies also show that 51% of truck drivers don't buckle up either.

In 2002, more than 72,000 people were injured on Missouri roads and 1,208 people lost their lives. According the NHTA, more than half of these deaths occur in rural areas.