State troopers in Westminster will use stuffed black-and-white toy cows this week to promote a crackdown on motorists who fail to buckle up children or place them in child safety seats.
The unrestrained children will receive the cow, its red shirt bearing the message: "Don't Moooove Until You Buckle Up."
The driver will get a $48 ticket for safety-seat violations or a $25 ticket for seat-belt violations."It's national ABC [America Buckles up Children] Week leading into the Memorial Day weekend, and our troopers will step up enforcement of seat belt and child passenger safety laws," said 1st Sgt. Dean Richardson.
Operation ABC Mobilization, as it is called nationally, is sponsored by the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.
Troopers in Westminster are blending the crackdown for safety with the Maryland Chiefs of Police Challenge, an April and May initiative.
Troopers have visited each of Carroll County's five high schools at least three times since April 1, posting themselves at parking lot entrances before or after school to enforce seat belt compliance.
Two high schools will receive Maryland Safety Belt Pacesetters Awards in September for exceeding 85 percent compliance, said Kim Jones, injury prevention coordinator for the Carroll County Health Department.
Jones, who coordinates traffic surveys and keeps statistics, said North Carroll and Liberty high schools would receive the Pacesetters Awards.
Overall, seat-belt use among county high school students increased 5 percent between September and April, Jones said.
Francis Scott Key High, near Uniontown, was the only school at which the compliance rate dropped, to 77 percent in April from 84 percent in September, Jones said.
Liberty High rose 6 percentage points to 93 percent; North Carroll jumped from 87 percent to 89 percent; Westminster rose from 75 percent to 82 percent; and South Carroll had the greatest increase, from 65 percent to 80 percent, Jones noted."The numbers are not up to where we would like them to be - 100 percent compliance is the goal - but each student who develops the habit of buckling up represents another life potentially saved," said Richardson.
The best news, said Richardson: "We have not had a single fatality [in the county] this year that could be blamed on not wearing seat belts."