Campaign boosts seat belt, child safety seat
LAKE COUNTY — Montana Highway Patrol and officers of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Police are joining all local law enforcement in the 2014 Click It, Don’t Risk It seat belt enforcement mobilization to encourage all Montanan’s to buckle up. Additional patrols and focus toward proper seat belt use will be on the road starting May 19 through June 1.
“Not wearing a seat belt is the primary factor associated with severe injury and death resulting from a vehicle crash,” said Police Chief Craige Couture. “Our officers are trained to protect lives—and that’s why they will be handing out tickets to anyone who doesn’t obey the seat belt law on the Flathead Reservation.”
MHP Sergeant Randy Owens said the goal is to save lives.
“Too many drivers and passengers on the road are not wearing their seat belts, and it often ends in tragedy,” Owens said. “Our goal is to save lives, so MHP and local law enforcement will be putting an extra emphasis on enforcing Montana’s seat belt and child safety seat laws.”
Preliminary numbers show 71 percent of those who died in crashes on Montana roads so far this year were not wearing seat belts – this is a nice decrease from last year, but there is still room for improvement. Seat belt use saves thousands of lives across America each year and Law Enforcement is helping spread the word.
“Clicking your seat belt is the simplest action you can take to save your life or prevent disability,” Chief Couture said. “Every tribal member should be asking everyone in their vehicle to buckle up, every trip, every time. Teach your children to buckle up and you are teaching them to survive.”
While Montana’s Click It, Don’t Risk It enforcement mobilization runs from May 19- June 1, motorists should know that officers are out enforcing seat belt laws year-round. Montana has a primary law for children through age 6 and weighing less than 60 pounds, but motorists need to ensure all children are properly buckled and sitting in the backseat until they are 13 years old. All adults should be buckled, too.
“We’d rather everyone choose to buckle up – not just to avoid the ticket, but to be safe and avoid serious injury or death,” Owens said. “Our officers are prepared to ticket anyone not buckled up … no warnings and no excuses – don’t risk it.”
For more information about the importance of child safety seats and seat belt use, please visit http://buckleup.mt.gov/ and http://plan2live.mt.gov. If you should have a question about your child’s car seat or would like to have it checked for proper installation and tightness, please stop by the Lake County Health Department at 802 Main St. in Polson.
Extra patrols are funded by the Montana Department of Transportation through the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, using funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Support for traffic safety efforts of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribal Police is provided by the Safe On All Roads program of the Montana Department of Transportation in partnership with Tribal Health and Human Services.