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OHP targets safety for Thanksgiving holiday

SOUTH POINT – As motorists take to the roadways this Thanksgiving, the Ohio Highway Patrol will work to ensure safety for both children and adults.

Wednesday, November 22, 2000

SOUTH POINT – As motorists take to the roadways this Thanksgiving, the Ohio Highway Patrol will work to ensure safety for both children and adults.

Troopers will hit the county’s highways in force the next four days, Ohio Highway Patrol Lt. Carl Roark said.

"Last year, over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, there were 20 people killed statewide as a result of traffic crashes," Roark said. "Only five of 15 people killed that actually had seat belts available were wearing them."

OHP figures show about 33 percent of motorists obeyed seat belt laws during the 1999 holiday, he added.

A new campaign, which started this past Monday, is designed to turn those numbers around and focus attention on protecting children, Roark said.

"That (33 percent) compliance is unacceptable and we’ll make every effort – through education and enforcement – to increase the level of compliance," he said. "We’re running what we call the ‘Operation ABC’ campaign, which is a nationwide seat belt child-restraint enforcement program."

The nationwide Operation ABC Mobilization – America Buckling Up Children program is the largest-ever coordinated crackdown on drivers who don’t buckle up children, he said.

The program involves more than 6,000 businesses, law enforcement and government agencies throughout the United States.

And, troopers will step up enforcement of Ohio’s child passenger safety law throughout the holiday weekend, Roark said.

Ohio’s child passenger safety law requires children under 4 or under 40 pounds be restrained in a child safety seat.

Throughout the remainder of the week, troopers will look for child passenger – as well as adult – safety violations, Roark said.

Unlike Ohio’s adult safety belt law, if a trooper sees an unrestrained child, the driver can be stopped for the child safety seat violation.

"The message is simple: Safety belts save lives," Roark said.

Troopers will also watch for motor vehicles that are following too closely, speeding and making unsafe lane changes, in addition to all other crash-causing violations, he said.

"We will have an increased effort on DUI violations. We will be operating at peak efficiency and removing impaired drivers from the roadways."

Slow down, buckle up and don’t drink and drive during the holiday weekend, Roark said.