90% compliance with seat-belt law found in survey

Local groups honored for role in safety effort

February 06, 2000|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Carroll County drivers and passengers earned high honors for seat-belt use, averaging 90 percent compliance in surveys conducted by police agencies, businesses and organizations.

More than 100 police agencies, businesses and organizations competed for the Pacesetter Awards, submitting survey results to the Maryland Highway Safety division of the State Highway Administration.

The awards were presented Jan. 28 in Annapolis, the culmination of a program that was part of a two-month educational campaign, dubbed the Maryland Chiefs' Challenge.

Businesses and law enforcement agencies in the state were randomly sought to participate in the surveys in the spring. Each selected monitors to make a visual check on drivers coming and going from business lots. State police did random checks at intersections.

The award winners from Carroll County included the police departments in Westminster and Sykesville, for 100 percent compliance; Carroll County Health Department, 93 percent; Carroll County government, Westminster East Middle School and St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Sykesville, 85 percent; and Wal-Mart of Westminster, the city of Westminster and Springfield Presbyterian Church in Sykesville, 80 percent.

State police at the Westminster barracks did not rate their own personnel, said 1st Sgt. Dean Richardson.

"I know our troopers would have been 100 percent compliant and couldn't see the value in doing a three-hour survey to prove it," Richardson said. "It was better to have two road patrol troopers make the countywide surveys and learn the effectiveness of our education and enforcement efforts."

Only businesses and agencies with at least 80 percent compliance for drivers and front-seat passengers in the vehicles surveyed received recognition, said Meg O'Brecht, a SHA spokeswoman.

Sgt. Michael Bible, police community education officer, coordinated the surveys conducted in Westminster and was happy to report high compliance.

"We recognize the importance of our citizens' safety, and proper use of seat belts and child safety seats is one simple step we can all take to maintain that safety," Bible said.

Police in Ocean City reported an average of 98 percent compliance in two random intersection surveys, highest in that category in the state, O'Brecht said.

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