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.