Found at: 0x1bi.net:70/textfiles/file?law/pol-prac.leb

October 1990                                                      

                     POLICE PRACTICES:                                   
                SEAT BELT AWARENESS PROGRAM                     

     The use of seat belts is probably the best available 
njury or death due to accidents.  State administrators consider
the use of seat belts so vital to the well-being of citizens that 
most States have mandated the use of these safety devices for all 
front-seat occupants.  Yet, voluntary compliance with seat belt 
laws is waning.  In fact, during spot checks, police officers in 
South Windsor, Connecticut, observed that only 1 person out of 
every 15 wore a seat belt.  The question then raised is, ``What 
can law enforcement do to make the general public aware of the 

     To address the problem, the South Windsor Police Department 
mplemented a Seat Belt Awareness Program.  This is an
educational/enforcement program designed to encourage residents 
to use seat belts.                                          

     The first hurdle, funding the project, was cleared when the
Connecticut Safety Belt Coalition granted the necessary monies to
cover the cost of the program.  This non-profit safety group that
encourages safety belt use also gave the department educational
nformation that stressed voluntary compliance with State law.

     In addition, a local business joined in this community 

     The Seat Belt Awareness Program ran during the month of 
August 1989.  During the first 2 weeks, the department issued 
being implemented, how the program would be conducted, and where 
officers would be stationed.                                      

     Starting with the third week, officers conducted 
nformational stops.  Occupants of vehicles stopped during this
materials that explained how seat belts prevent injury and death 
and how many deaths would be prevented if occupants used seat 
belts.  Those found wearing their seat belts received 
merchandise give-aways or coupons for ice cream, which had been 

     The final week of the program was enforcement week.  During 
this week, officers issued 215 tickets charging drivers with 
failure to wear seat belts, an infraction of Connecticut General 
Statutes 14-100ac.  Drivers were fined if they were not wearing 
verbal warning was given, and officers advised the occupant on 

     Officers conducted both their informational and enforcement 
Surprisingly, few complained about being issued a ticket, and 
many thanked the officers for reminding them to buckle up.     

     The program succeeded in getting the residents of South 
Windsor to wear their seat belts.  Officers observed that the 
Awareness Program was 14 out of 15.  By combining informational 
brought about ``voluntary compliance'' to the Connecticut Seat 
Belt Law.  More important, the police department demonstrated 
concern for the safety of South Windsor residents by encouraging 
them, their family members, and friends to buckle up and prevent 


     Information for this column was submitted by Sgt. Thomas C. 
Hart of the South Windsor, Connecticut, Police Department.