Fines increase for not wearing seatbelts

Students can face a $60 fine for not wearing their seatbelt according to the Tallahassee Police Department.

These new penalties are part of the Buckle Up Florida, “Click it or Ticket” campaign in the state.

Last year the “Click It or Ticket” campaign led to 30,000 citations statewide along with a 9 percent increase in seat belt usage in nine days.

As a result, more than 1 million people started to buckle up last year, according to a media release from Buckle Up Florida.

“As a traffic homicide investigator, one of the common things that we find is people not wearing their seatbelts,” said David Folsom who is the Sergeant of the Special Operations Division at the Tallahassee Police Department.

According to Folsom, 90 percent of automobile fatalities are related to seat belts.

“If safety belt usage does not go up, then it will become a primary law which means that if a officer sees you not wearing your safety restraint, he can then pull you and give you a ticket,” said Kathleen Payne, the transportation data analysis supervisor for Minority Youth Occupant Protection Initiative Program, said.

“Right know that is not a law in Florida,” she said.

Florida’s Traffic Crash Facts reported that traffic crashes are the No. 1 killer of African Americans ages 1 to 24 and the second leading cause of death for ages 25 to 34 in Florida. More than 33,000 African Americans died or were injured in 2000.

The Minority Youth Occupant Protection Initiative Program is geared

to get more minorities to use their safety restraints.

“Right now African Americans are among the lowest people who use their seatbelts as opposed to Caucasians or other minorities,” said Payne. “Our focus is to raise the percentage of the overall usage.”

Community Outreach Coordinator Ria Singleton, said communication will help.

“We are trying everything that we can from the flyers to bill boards and going out to the day care centers trying to educate the parents and students.”

Folsom said most people aren’t aware of the three basic collisions that are involved with a car crash.

“When the metal of the car hits something, that is the first collision.”

The second collision is when the body, still traveling at the speed of the vehicle, makes contact with something and the third is when the organs, make contact with the body wall at that same speed, said Folsom.

In Tallahassee, seat belt surveyors are used to conduct the analysis of seat belt use in the city, which is later submitted to the Department of Transportation.

FAMU students perform all the assessments. To gather information surveyors stand at assigned corners look for signs of the driver begin restrained or unrestrained in their seat belt, the type of vehicle that they possesses, along

with their gender and race.

“Mostly I noticed that their were a lot of kids who were unrestrained, or if

they were restrained they were improperly restrained,” Singleton, 24, a senior civil engineering student from Daytona Beach. “They were able to get out of their seats and basically move about around the car.”

“I have seen with my own eyes a women get ejected from her vehicle and

thrown into oncoming traffic, and all she did was loose control,” said James

Willis, 23, a senior mechanical engineering student from Anderson, S.C.

“My seatbelt has saved my life more than once in my lifetime” said

Willis who has been in two car accidents.

The next “Click It or Ticket” enforcement will be Nov. 23 through

Dec. 1.