KCHS 'clicks it' for tickets

Posted: Monday, May 10, 2010

By now most motorists likely know the popular law enforcement catch phrase, "Click It or Ticket," referring to the no-tolerance policy of issuing citations for not wearing seatbelts.

Photos Courtesy Of Mitch Langseth
Photos Courtesy Of Mitch Langseth
Students at Kenai Central High School check out their peers as they arrive to school last week as part of Click it and Ticket.

Last week, students pulling into the parking lot at Kenai Central High School were treated to a different slogan: "Click It and Ticket."

The young drivers weren't getting citations for doing the right thing by being buckled in, though.

Mitch Langseth, an investigator with the Kenai Police Department, used grant money from the Alaska Peace Officers Association and the Alaska Highway Safety Office to team up with members of the school's Recycling Club and increase awareness about wearing the life-saving devices.

Langseth said they started the weeklong program on April 29 with a pre-survey in the school parking lot between 7:10 and 7:40 a.m. to see how many students buckled-up.

They recorded about 82 percent compliance overall of the 295 students observed, with about 80 percent compliance for males and 84 percent for females.

Those numbers are higher than state average recorded here five years-ago, according to Langseth.

Starting last week, Langseth began handing out tickets, informational tickets that is.

Even if students were not buckled up, Langseth said no real citations were issued, as the goal was to spread information.

The tickets explained how seatbelts worked to prevent injury or death in an accident.

The students could then turn their "citations" in with their name on it in exchange for candy or a granola bar.

On Thursday, six of the tickets were drawn as part of a raffle for six gift cards to Walmart.

A post survey was also conducted during the same time period to see if the information had made an impact.

Langseth reported 98 percent compliance of the 298 observed arriving students, with 99 percent for females and 87 percent for males.

"You would think there would be 100 percent compliance, but there's not," Langseth said. "It seems odd to me that you have a generation that's been seatbelted since they were born and that they would even feel weird to not have one on."

For youth, the reasons for not wearing one vary, he explained.

"I do believe some think that they're a good driver and nothing can happen," he said. "Another is, 'I'm not driving very fast or very far.'"

He added that sometimes people are mislead, believing that safety features like airbags will keep them safe in an accident. He explained, however, that such devices are meant to be used in unison with a seatbelt, and could potentially cause more serious injury if a driver in an accident is not wearing one.

With the word out at Kenai, Langseth said he hopes to expand the program to other district schools.

"I would like to pilot this program to other schools next fall," he said. "We paved the road."

Dante Petri can be reached at dante.petri@peninsulaclarion.com.

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