Police check seatbelt usage

Staff Writer
Geneseo Republic

Local law enforcement officials recently spent four hours in Geneseo enforcing seatbelt usage.

Illinois State? Police District No. 7 troopers, along with Geneseo police officers and Henry? County sheirff’s deputies conducted the first of what they say will be many Cooperative Agency Seatbelt Enforcement (C.A.S.E.) detail.

Officers concentrated on stopping drivers and passengers who failed to wear their seatbelts, said Illinois State?Police Capt. Jeffrey Patterson.

“This was the first of its kind. We plan to do this in other communities throughout the Quad City area that have been identified as having a low compliance rate,” he said.

Although the statewide compliance rate for seatbelt usage currently stands at 91.1 percent, a number of area communities have been identified as having a very low seatbelt compliance rate.

“Our goals are to educate, enforce and save lives. Those goals continue to be our main focus when we revisit these communities to ensure we are having the positive impact we desire,” explained Patterson.

During the Geneseo detail, 40 people were issued citations for not wearing a seatbelt.

“These numbers indicate that our communities and law enforcement personnel must work together to ensure that this message is important to everyone. Positive officer interaction with drivers and passengers during this detail reinforced that we need to change habits,” said Patterson. “‘I was only driving in town,’ or ‘I was just running some errands’ are common reasons many don’t wear seatbelts. We want people to buckle up every time they enter a vehicle.”

According to police statistics, in 2008 there have been 10 fatal vehicle crashes in District No. 7 (Henry, Mercer, Knox and Rock Island counties).

The crashes produced 11 fatalities, nine of which were directly related to the victim failing to wear a seatbelt.

There have been four fatalities in? Henry County this year, all were unrestrained. In 2007, there were five fatalities and the majority did not wear a seatbelt, said Patterson.

The C.A.S.E. detail allows law enforcement agencies in an area to work together and ensure maximum results for their efforts.

“It’s an easy decision when you look at the numbers to see that we must pool our resources and take a proactive approach on occupant restraint enforcement to ensure the safety of everyone on the roadway,” said Patterson.