Officers on lookout for unbuckled children
The California Highway Patrol is joining law enforcement agencies through May 29 in a nationwide maximum enforcement effort focused on drivers who do not buckle up children. CHP is also launching the use of an 800 number to enlist the help of motorists who observe child passengers who are not properly restrained.
“It is every driver’s responsibility to properly secure child passengers in a safety belt or car safety seat. The number of children killed and injured in collisions because they were not properly secured is more than tragic, it’s unacceptable,” said CHP Commissioner D. O. “Spike” Helmick. “This week-long enforcement effort is our way of telling motorists we have zero tolerance for anyone who does not properly secure child passengers.”
According the CHP’s provisional report of fatal victims under age 4, 38 children were killed and 2,863 were injured statewide in collisions in 1999. Of the 38 killed 11 were not secured in a safety seat, 15 were improperly secured in their seats and only seven were in safety seats that were used correctly. The CHP is putting special efforts into getting the message to Latino motorists, as 23 of the 38 children killed were Latino or had Latino surnames.
“Our Community Outreach office and our El Protector officers are working diligently to get the ‘buckle-up’ message to Latino motorists throughout the state. We simply must do all we can to keep children safe when traveling in a car,” Helmick said.
In a move to gain greater compliance the CHP is enlisting the help of all California motorists with a spotter program where citizens are encouraged to call 1-800-TELL CHP and report motorists traveling with unrestrained children. Registered vehicle owners who are reported receive a letter reminding them that the law requires them to properly secure child passengers. Additionally, those registered owners receive information on how to properly install a child safety seat and how they can get assistance with child passenger safety.
“California is the nationwide leader in safety best compliance. It’s time we step up to the plate and do the same for our children. There is absolutely no excuse for not properly securing a child passenger,” Helmick said.
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