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You’re being watched, so buckle up

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The best excuses are given creativity points... along with your citation

By Becky Barnes

The two-week target dates for Click It or Ticket have come and gone, but don’t think that Sgt. Wilbur Gross of the Cynthiana Police Department will be getting lax on seat belt tickets.
Between May 23 and June 5, there were 111 seat belt citations issued as well as six citations for failure to use proper child restraint device.
Just because the national campaign weeks have passed, don’t be lulled into believing that no one’s paying attention to your driving habits.
The CPD’s traffic safety grant, which gives the department money to pay overtime for officers monitoring traffic safety issues, continues throughout the year.
In fact, while on my weekly quest for police records, Wilbur was turning in a whopping 12 seat belt citations from a 6-hour period.
He’s still watching.
People’s reasons for not wearing a seat belt astound or dumbfound me.
“I don’t need one when I’m in town.”
Hmm.
Wilbur is employed by the “city” police department. Therefore, the citations he issues are made “in town.”
Sometimes we just need saving from ourselves.
Wilbur has heard some of the excuses over and over again.
“Forgot.”
“Just pulled away from the store.”
But the one he hears most often is... “It’s my right not to wear it.”
I guess if you exercised what you believe is your right, then you should expect to get a ticket.
One excuse that I’ve heard before is “Wearing a seat belt wrinkles my clothes.”
Yes. It probably does. But, if you go through the windshield, you’ll likely have tears in your clothes along with blood stains.
Wrinkles are a minor inconvenience.
“Seat belts are too uncomfortable.”
Ask my daughter how uncomfortable her body cast and neck brace were after she was tossed around her rolling vehicle like a rag doll in a dryer.
At barely 5-feet tall, seat belts come across her chest and along the side of her face. However, despite my constant nagging to wear seat belts, she did not buckle up.
For nearly four months she was “uncomfortable” in her body cast for 24 hours a day.
The following are the Top 10 excuses for not wearing a seat belt, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Office of Highway Safety:
•I don’t need a seat belt when driving at slow speeds or on short trips.
Most crash deaths occur within 25 miles of home and at speeds of less than 40 miles per hour. Fatal injuries to unrestrained motorists have occurred in vehicles traveling as slow as 12 miles per hour. An unbelted person hitting a windshield in a 40-mile-per-hour crash would feel the same force as hitting the ground after falling off a five-story building.
•I might get trapped in my car if it catches on fire or becomes submerged under water.
Crashes involving fire or water happen in only 1/2 of one percent of all crashes. The greatest danger to vehicle occupants is from the impact of the crash itself.
Seat belt wearers are more likely to be uninjured and conscious after a crash, allowing them to get out of the vehicle quickly.
•I don’t need to wear a seat belt because my vehicle has air bags.
Air bags are designed to work in combination with seat belts, providing supplemental protection during certain types of crashes. Seat belts help to properly position occupants to maximize the airbags’ benefits and help restrain occupants during the initial impact and any following collisions.
Air bags inflate at a speed of over 100 miles per hour. An unrestrained or improperly restrained occupant can be seriously injured or killed by the force of an activated air bag.
•It makes me feel restrained.
That’s the function of a seat belt! All seat belts allow free movement of the occupant until a crash occurs (or in some instances until you jam on your brakes!)
In a crash, a seat belt keeps you restrained so you’re not thrown about or out of the vehicle, where you’re four times more likely to be killed than if you remain in the car.
•Seat belts can cause more damage (like a broken collar bone) during a crash than they can help.
Seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45% and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50%. For light truck occupants, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60% and moderate-to-critical injury by 65%. During a crash, properly fastened seat belts distribute the forces of rapid deceleration over larger and stronger parts of the body, such as the chest, hips, and shoulders. The seat belt stretches slightly to slow your body down and to increase its stopping distance.
•It irritates the skin on my neck or chest.
Most new vehicles have shoulder height adjustments that allow occupants to move the shoulder belt height up or down for a more comfortable fit. For older vehicles, occupants may consider wearing clothes with a higher neck to provide some extra padding if this is a concern.
•I am too big to wear a seat belt; it doesn’t fit.
For some individuals, purchasing a seat belt extender may work to solve this issue.
•This is just government trying to control individuals.
Every state has a variety of traffic laws that mandate what people can or cannot do. For instance, it is illegal to drink and drive, it is illegal to speed, and it is illegal to drive or ride without a seat belt. Driving is a privilege, not a right.
In 2007 in Kentucky, 391 (55.9%) of the 864 total motor vehicle fatalities were not restrained.
Of the unrestrained fatalities, 116 were totally ejected and 35 were partially ejected. Nationwide, approximately 75% of those totally ejected are killed.
•I can’t reach my children if they should need attention.
If you’re driving, your eyes should be focused forward. If you’re trying to feed, calm or play with your baby in the backseat, attention is not focused on the road and both lives are at risk. If you’re a passenger and need to attend to your child, sit in the back seat with the child, and both of you should be properly restrained. Never hold a child in your lap while in a vehicle.
The laws of physics will make it impossible for you to hold onto your child in a crash. Please pull over to a safe location if you need to nurse your child.
•I have a medical condition, I can’t wear it.
This can be a valid excuse but only if a doctor provides you with a written medical note. If this is the case, make sure to carry it in your purse or wallet so that the doctor’s instructions remain with you if you are a passenger in someone else’s vehicle.
In addition to the seat belt and child restraint violations, there were other infractions cited as well.
Seven fugitives were apprehended, four individuals were found to be driving on suspended licenses, six were driving with no insurance, six speeders, four reckless driving and 84 other traffic violations.
That, my friends, is a job well done.