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Law enforcement officers honored for efforts to increase use of seat belts

Use of seat belts has increased from 67.2 percent to 85 percent since 2006

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 7, 2014) — The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) today honored 137 law enforcement officers from 119 agencies across the commonwealth for their efforts to increase the use of seat belts and child restraints in motor vehicles.

SeatbeltThe fourth annual Governor’s Occupant Protection Awards ceremony was held at the Embassy Suites in Lexington. Awards were presented to officers with the most occupant protection citations in each agency and division. There are six divisions, broken down by number of officers within the agency, plus a division for Kentucky State Police.

“Despite a wealth of data showing that seat belts and child restraints save lives, each year hundreds of unrestrained motorists lose their lives on Kentucky roadways,” KOHS Director Bill Bell said before presenting the awards. “These officers, their departments and agencies render a great service for public safety by enforcing our occupant protection laws.”

There were 638 highway fatalities in Kentucky in 2013, with 483 killed in motor vehicles.  Of those 483 fatalities, 278 were not wearing a seat belt.

“Kentucky’s seat belt usage rate increased with the passage of the primary law from 67.2 percent in 2006 to 85 percent in 2013,” Bell said. “It’s obvious that law enforcement is making a difference. However, there is still a great deal of work to be done — one fatality is too many.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts, when worn correctly, are proven to reduce the risk of fatal injuries to front-seat occupants by 45 percent — and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans.  Also according to NHTSA, child restraints reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers in passenger cars, and by 58 percent and 59 percent, respectively, in light trucks.