Columbia officers to work overtime for Click It or Ticket

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 | 9:26 a.m. CDT; updated 9:52 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 20, 2009

COLUMBIA — Officers from the Columbia Police Department will work overtime in the next two weeks as part of the annual statewide Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign.

Capt. Tim Hull, director of public information for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said this campaign’s goal is simple: It aims to spread the word about the seriousness of driving safety measures, such as seat belt and child restraint requirements.

Even though these policies are always in place, nearly 25 percent of Missouri drivers and passengers didn’t use seat belts in 2008, according to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety.

“We don’t just enforce this during the two weeks,” Hull said. “We enforce it all year around.”

Drivers who are caught without their seat belt on will be ticketed. They can also be ticketed for each unbuckled passenger in the vehicle younger than 16, Hull said. Unbuckled front-seat passengers will also receive tickets if they are 16 or older.

Columbia Police Sgt. Shelley Jones said officers cannot pull over drivers solely for seat-belt checks or child-restraint-system checks, but drivers should be aware officers are being more strict about these violations. Drivers pulled over for usual offenses, such as speeding or non-licensed vehicles, can expect more attention on seat belts and child-restraint systems in these situations .

The campaign, a project of the Missouri Safety Center, Missouri Department of Transportation and the Missouri Highway Safety Patrol, relies on each Missouri town to use its police department for extra patrolling efforts. The Missouri Safety Center has given grants in order to make this extra patrolling possible in Columbia through May 31.

The grants usually go to departments in high-accident areas, said Ralph Stewart, Missouri Safety Center’s state sobriety training coordinator.

“Missouri has a bad reputation, and it’s well deserved,” Stewart said, explaining that Columbia is one of the most accident-prone cities in the state.

In 2007, Columbia ranked fourth in the state for the number of urban traffic fatalities, with 10 killed that year, according to the 2008 Missouri Traffic Crashes report.

However, Hull said the number of fatalities in the state has fallen drastically in the past few years, and there’s an 18 percent decrease compared with this time last year. He said public awareness efforts about driving safety precautions and MoDOT engineering changes, such as adding cables to highway dividers, contributed to the decrease of nearly 300 deaths between 2005 and 2008.

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hasture kole May 22, 2009 | 8:28 a.m.

Seatbelt laws are an insult to drivers in the “show me state”, a phrase that is used to indicate the stalwart, conservative, non-credulous character of Missourians (as stated by the Sec. of States For a state that has one of the lowest standards for alcohol laws in the union, it is moronic for Missouri to enforce a seatbelt law. A passenger can legally drive across Missouri’s highways and byways with open containers in the vehicle (as long as they wear their seatbelts!). Missouri legislation should stop pandering to the insurance companies and keep in mind that it is working for the citizens. Legislation is about to abolish the helmet laws for a motorcycle, but not the free choice of a driver to wear a seatbelt.

(Report Comment)
Jason Entermyer May 22, 2009 | 9:46 a.m.

Right on hasture kole! All seat belts do is wrinkle your clothes and it's such a bother to buckle in your kids. I really enjoy the unbuckled freedom of zooming down the highway at 70 mph. Plus, who doesn't like that glorious feeling of flying through the windshield upon impact? What a rush! We have such stupid legislators here in Missouri.

(Report Comment)
hasture kole May 22, 2009 | 10:24 a.m.

Jason, I think you missed the message that my sarcasm was trying to send. Our state government has double standards where the public’s safety is at stake. Instead of enforcing and strengthening current laws to keep up with other states standards we are creating new laws that are undermined by the lack of revising our antiquated laws. Until the alcohol and helmet laws are addressed it is ludicrous to believe that the seat belt law will be effective.
As to having the Freedom to hurl ones-self down the highway at 70 mph… I would hope the average driver would have the common sense to strap in their children and not drive, eat, apply makeup, read the paper, & use their phones at the same time. As for the other drivers… good luck!

(Report Comment)

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