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Agencies promote ‘Child Passenger Safety’

Law enforcement agencies throughout the county began teaming up today to ensure increased safety for both children and adults.

Saturday, February 10, 2001

Law enforcement agencies throughout the county began teaming up today to ensure increased safety for both children and adults.

Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputies and Ohio Highway Patrol troopers will hit the county’s highways in full force to ensure adults don’t drive with unbuckled children.

The two agencies, in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies and the River Cities Safe Kids Coalition, are launching a week-long observance of Child Passenger Safety Week Feb. 11-17.

Their mission? To crack down on adults who drive on the county’s roadways without buckling up their children.

Statewide, law enforcement personnel will be using various public awareness displays, increased patrols, checkpoints and saturation patrols during the safety blitz, OSHP officials said.

Sheriff Tim Sexton said his department has a "zero tolerance for deadbeat drivers – drivers who fail to buckle up their child passengers."

OSHP Lt. Carl Roark agreed and said recent figures show that only an estimated 33 percent of motorists obey seat belt laws.

"That (33 percent) compliance is unacceptable and we’ll make every effort – through education and enforcement – to increase the level of compliance," Roark said.

Troopers and sheriff’s deputies will be stepping up enforcement of adult seat belt laws, he added.

Sexton said the past three years of blitz enforcement drives have "significantly" contributed to an increase in child restraint use and a decline in child fatalities.

But, recent statistics show that one out of every four children ride unrestrained, meaning an estimated 15 million children are at deadly risk every time they ride in a motor vehicle, Roark said.

"While the numbers are improving, there is still work to be done," he said. "Motor vehicle crashes remain the number one killer of children."

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.

The River Cities Safe Kids Coalition, which includes health and safety agencies from Lawrence County, will also offer free child safety seat inspections at five area GM dealerships this month.

The events are designed to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of proper car seat installation.

The events are:

– Feb. 16, 1-3 p.m., Glockner Chevrolet, Portsmouth.

– Feb. 17, 1-4 p.m., Hamilton Chevrolet, Proctorville.

– Feb. 24, 1-4 p.m., Bob Clyse Oldsmobile, Ironton.