To the Editor:
If you notice more police on the highway this week, it’s for a couple of reasons.
For one, police usually increase patrols during holidays, including the upcoming Memorial Day observance. For another, law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. are geared up for the Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement.
There is no argument that seat belt use saves lives. In 2011, statistics show that 11,949 lives were spared because of seat belts, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Administration.
That’s the good news. The bad is that more than half of the 21,253 people killed in passenger vehicle accidents in 2011 were not wearing seat belts when they crashed. For 2012, preliminary figures show that 108 unbuckled drivers died in Maryland.
Locally, the effort will include Maryland State Police, the sheriff’s departments in Allegany and Garrett counties and city police in Cumberland and Frostburg.
Maryland law enforcement has always participated in the national seat belt campaign. Any driver found unbelted will receive a ticket. But in the fall, the state law will get even more strict. John Kuo, Administrator of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, said effective Oct. 1 everyone will be required to wear a seat belt — back seat as well as front seat passengers.
As police officers look out for seat belt violations this week, we also hope they pay close attention to drivers who continue to break the law by holding cell phones while driving. Distracted drivers are a threat to all of us.