Buckle up … or else | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Buckle up … or else

Jen Schmidt / North Lake Tahoe Bonanza / Kelsey Higgins, 14, and her brother Sean, 17, buckle up before heading home after soccer practice at Incline High School Monday afternoon.

Law enforcement provides a long list of driving don’ts: Don’t speed, don’t switch lanes without signaling and don’t drink and drive.

The list of do’s is much shorter, but one is major — Do wear your seat belt.

It’s a message the Nevada law enforcement community is trying to get out to teenagers over the next few weeks.

According to the Nevada Department of Public Safety, 70 percent of teen drivers and their passengers who were not buckled in during an accident died in 2006.

Traci Pearl, occupant protection program manager for the Nevada Department of Public Safety, is disappointed because she said accidents without seat belts are avoidable.

“Half of these people would be with us today if they’d only buckled up,” Pearl said.

A federal grant issued $1 million to the Nevada Office of Transportation Safety for increased seat belt enforcement among teenagers.

Trooper Chuck Allen of the Nevada Highway Patrol said the money will fund 40 hours of overtime for Nevada Highway Patrol troopers from Friday, Oct. 20, through Nov. 4.

Over that time, there will be five eight-hour shifts in NHP’s Northern Command area.

The Oct. 20 to Nov. 4 time-period is the first of four two-week enforcement waves Allen says the office of transportation safety plans to conduct over the next year.

“Our troopers are going to be out looking for moving, non-moving and mechanical violations over that time, and then looking to see if the occupant is wearing their seat belt. If they aren’t, we will issue a $67 ticket,” Allen said. “If they are, though, we have cards we’ll hand out to young drivers with free music downloads as a reward.”

Allen said the focus of the crackdown will be teenage drivers, and in addition to increased patrol the Office of Transportation Safety is launching a teen/parent driving contract.

“This is something we want parents to get a look at, it helps to set down the ground rules of the road for young drivers,” Allen said.

The contract, available at http://www.ots.state.nv.us/teen_ticket.shtml, implores teens to be good drivers and reminds them that driving is a privilege.

Allen urges parents to use it or to tailor it to their own needs, but says they should have an understanding with their teens on car use.

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