Police to step up enforcement of seat belt laws Effort is part of Chiefs' Challenge

February 02, 1993|By Bill Talbott | Bill Talbott,Staff Writer

State and local police officials yesterday kicked off the 1993 Maryland Chiefs' Challenge for seat belt use by announcing a two-month enforcement effort in Carroll County.

Westminster Police Chief Sam Leppo said his department will conduct seat belt surveys this month at Main and John streets, Railroad Avenue and Willis Street, and Washington Road and Green Street.

Lt. Roy Neigh, commander of the Westminster state police barracks, said his troopers will spot check cars throughout the county to ensure that all occupants -- drivers, passengers and children -- are properly restrained.

Taneytown Police Chief Mel Diggs declared the program a necessity for both adults and children, stating, "to save just one life through this program makes it all worthwhile."

The enforcement actions are part of the annual Chiefs' Challenge program, sponsored by The Maryland Committee for Safety Belt Use Inc. and the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association. The programs aims at getting Marylanders to buckle up.

Chief Leppo said Maryland leads the nation in the use of seat belts, with more than 76 percent of people on the roads using some form of restraints.

He said seat belt use in Carroll County is as high as 81 percent.

But the law enforcement officials, citing national traffic fatality statistics, said they want to concentrate on the 19 percent who don't use restraints, particularly children who are not in seat belts or safety seats.

Chief Leppo said 41,000 people are killed in vehicle accidents each year in the United States.

"A person is killed every 14 minutes, and one is injured every 12 seconds in this country, and many of those could be saved or receive less serious injuries through the use of seat belts," he said. "Fifteen thousand lives could be saved every year through the proper use of safety belts and child restraints."

As in last year's survey, letters of commendation will be sent to drivers of cars in which children are properly restrained, he said.

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