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Seat belt use campaign starts Tuesday

Police will be out in force for Memorial Day weekend

Don’t panic if you see a caravan of police cars with their blue lights going tomorrow afternoon.

It just marks the beginning of the regional kickoff of the Click It or Ticket seat belt campaign aimed at increasing seat belt usage through traffic safety checkpoints and enforcement patrols, occurs annually around the Memorial Day holiday, this year, from May 21 to June 3.

As part of it, officers from Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia will meet for a briefing in Ashland, Kentucky and then, around 1 p.m., will cross the bridge over the Ohio River and head to the Ironton campus of Ohio University Southern for a news conference.

“Our mission is to save lives and reduce injuries by getting more people to buckle up,” said Ashland Police Chief Todd Kelley. “We would rather make the traffic stop than the notification, to tell a family that their loved one has died in a crash.”

Of the 597 motor vehicle fatalities in Kentucky last year, 52 percent (308) were not wearing a seat belt. In Ohio, there were 344 fatalities in 2017 with four of those happening in Lawrence County. There have been two so far this year.

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that buckling up in a car can reduce the risk of a fatal injury by 45 percent. As seat belt usage rates go up, the fatality and serious injury rates go down.

On May 3 and 4, 46 law enforcement agencies in ten counties were part of a combined SHIELD effort in southeast Ohio and specific areas across Ohio’s boarder into West Virginia and Kentucky.

There were 289 criminal cases investigated including 121 drug cases. The agencies combined for 68 felony drug arrests, 53 misdemeanor drug arrests and 10 stolen vehicle recoveries. Additionally, 84 warrants were served resulting in the arrest of 82 individuals.

The agencies seized more than 1,216 grams of illegal/dangerous narcotics, which included heroin, methamphetamines, crack/cocaine, prescription pills and marijuana.

There were a total of 1,933 traffic stops resulting in 15 arrests for OVI, 97 seatbelt citations, 82 driving under suspension citations and 313 motorists assists.

Local agencies involved in the effort included the FBI, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Kentucky State Police, the West Virginia State Police, the Ironton Police Department, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, Chesapeake Police Department, Hanging Rock Police Department, South Point Police Department, Coal Grove Police Department, Proctorville Police Department, the Oak Hill Police Department, the Russell Police Department, and Ashland Police Department.