| 03.24.2018

Buckle up for safety — Idaho will have stricter enforcement of seatbelt laws throughout February


As a way to lower the traffic related injuries which happen throughout Idaho and to reach the states goal of zero death, the Idaho Transportation Department gives grants to police departments that participate in enforcing different transportation laws, said Lt. Paul Kwiatkowski of the Moscow Police Department.
For several years Moscow has been utilizing these grants, which help put more officers in the streets, Kwiatkowski said.
“When there are more enforcers, or more cop cars, more people are apt to drive safely,” he said.
Throughout the year, ITD chooses certain time periods where they would like stricter enforcement of laws and Kwiatkowski said the Moscow Police Department applies for these days and lets ITD know they will participate..
The ITD grant pays for additional officers working, so the city does not have to pay for the increased number of cops on the clock, he said.
Sometimes the time periods are targeted to enforce driving under the influence, such as during Memorial Day weekend and during the summer, he said, but sometimes they also target aggressive drivers and seat belt use violators.
To increase the use of seatbelts, ITD has designated Feb. 8-17 as a period when police enhance the enforcement of seatbelt laws.
UI sophomore Madisen Chinnock said she is a safe driver and always wears her seatbelt.
“I want to be safe,” she said. “And I do not want to be pulled over by the cops.”
Kwiatkowski said in Idaho, a person cannot be pulled over for not wearing their seatbelt.
“It is a secondary offense,” he said. “So, if you get pulled over for speeding, you can also get a citation for not wearing your safety belt.”
However, Idaho does require everyone in a car to wear a seatbelt, unless it is an older vehicle that might not have seatbelts for all of the passengers the car seats safely, he said.  There is a $10 fine for people who are not wearing their seatbelts, and if they are juveniles the fine can be as much as $61.50, he said.
Chinnock said she always makes her passengers wear seatbelts and has even pulled over and stopped the car until her friends put them on.
However, not all people believe seatbelts are needed.
“I do not think it is important to wear your seatbelt,” said Samantha Spencer, UI junior. “I have had friends die who were wearing their seatbelts.”
Kwiatkowski said chances are better if a person is wearing their safety belt, as the safety belt will stop you from moving forward first, in an accident, instead of another part of the car.
The law and safety belt enforcement also extends to children who need child safety restraints.
Children up to 6-years-old need to be in a child safety restraint, and there can be up to a $79 fine if that is violated, he said.
Spenser said if she were to have children, she would probably make them use a seat belt, and would definitely use a car seat.
A couple of times each year, the Moscow police department does an observational survey of people in cars who wear their safety belts, Kwiatkowski said.
In Latah County, their survey from about a year ago said 80 percent of drivers were seen wearing safety belts, he said.
Allison Griffith can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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