Making seat belt safety a daily habit Police checking cars as they arrive at schools

February 14, 1996|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,SUN STAFF

Gloves. Tissues. Lunch money. Seat belt.

Parents who review a checklist with their youngsters before they drive them to school this week should add that last item or be prepared to get a ticket.

County police officers are writing tickets, giving warnings and handing out information on the proper use of seat belts and cild safety seats as part of National Seat Belt Safety Week.

The police campaign has taken on an air of urgency after two accidents in which a baby was killed and a woman critically injured because they were not wearing seat belts.

On the first day of their visits to nine elementary schools, police checked more than 670 cars coming in and out of school parking lots. They gave out about 45 tickets and 77 warnings to drivers who did not have their children buckled in a safety seat, police said.

Officers went back to schools in the afternoon and found some repeat offenders.

"They all say the same thing," said Sgt. Scott Pittaway, commander of the police traffic safety division. " 'My kids were late to school, I only had a couple blocks to go.'

"That's the thing, when the kids are late to school, that's when they get into accidents. [The parents] are not stopping at stop signs. They're not watching where they're going."

Police are doing seat belt checks at one to three schools in each of the four police districts every day this week. Monday, police were at Glenwood, Marley, Brock Bridge, Ridgeway, North Glen, Cape St. Claire, Rippling Woods, Shipley's Choice and Edgewater elementary schools.

Officers are giving some children small, stuffed lion dolls wearing a shirt that reads: "You can re-lion seat belts." And parents are being given information on the department's program that provides safety seats to people who cannot afford them.

On Feb. 2, a 16-month-old boy sitting on his older sister's lap was partially ejected from a minivan and then crushed when the van spun out of control on a slick, snow-covered road, hit a curb and flipped on its side.

Five others in the van suffered minor injuries, and police said the baby probably would have survived with minor injuries as well had he been in his child safety seat.

In an accident Sunday, a Washington woman was thrown 65 feet from her car after another car hit the passenger side of her Honda Civic and sent the vehicle spinning. The woman, Veronica P. Womack, was in critical condition yesterday at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

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