Kenai police STEP up seat belt enforcement

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2001

In conjunction with a national effort, the Kenai Police Department will make intensive efforts through March 31, 2002, to enforce seat belt laws in addition to other moving and safety violations. The department encourages all drivers to buckle their seat belts "every time, all the time, every trip."

Those stopped by the police will likely receive a ticket if they or their child passengers are not wearing a seat belt or using a child safety seat.

Research shows when adult drivers buckles their seat belts, child passengers also tend to be buckled up and restrained. The opposite also holds true. Adult drivers choosing not to buckle their small passengers tend to have "loose" kids in their cars, according the a study by the National Highway Safety Administration.

The research also finds it is not an uncommon tendency for some people to buckle their seat belt only when they perceive danger or see a police car.

Another dangerous tendency seems to be not to buckle up themselves or their small passengers if they are only going a short distance.

This cooperative effort of state and national highway safety planning agencies is called the Seat belt and Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP), which is federally funded. Its goal nationally, and locally, is to promote child passenger safety and overall motorist safety on the road.

The goals of such programs are not tickets, but to reduce the number of motor collisions in high-risk areas and decrease the number of motor vehicle accident-related injuries and deaths.

The child restraint law in Alaska is a primary law, which allows officers to stop and cite a driver for any unrestrained passengers under the age of 16, even in the absence of other traffic violations.

The penalty for an unrestrained driver or passenger over 16 is a $15 fine. A driver with an unrestrained child under 16 is subject to a $50 fine and two points on their Alaska Motor Vehicle Division record.

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