Jasper — The Jasper Police Department issued 68 citations as part of a recent traffic enforcement operation designed to encourage greater seat belt use.
According to the department, the high-visibility patrols were conducted to encourage drivers and passengers to buckle up in order to prevent injuries and save lives. During the enforcement campaign, the Jasper Police Department worked 31 hours of overtime traffic enforcement. During this period, JPD made 70 traffic stops, issued 21 written warnings, issued 68 traffic citations (48 Seat Belt Citations) and made one criminal arrest (Possession of Marijuana/Paraphernalia) during the traffic- enforcement mobilization.
The department joined dozens of law enforcement agencies across the state for Operation Belt Up, which ran from October to early November. For three weeks, officers worked overtime to reduce injuries and fatalities related to seat belt use.
The high-visibility patrols were funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
“We still have far too many people not buckling up,” said Assistant Chief Aaron Persohn. “It’s a fact that seat belts are your best defense in a crash and against unsafe drivers. The more people we can reach with this message, the more lives we can save.”
Seat belts can reduce the risk of injury or death in a crash by 50 percent, yet more people are choosing not to wear one in the state and nationwide. It’s one of several alarming trends that has contributed to a rise in traffic fatalities during the pandemic, according to the criminal justice institute.
So far this year, of the total number of vehicle occupants killed in crashes, more than 40 percent were unbuckled. Moreover, seat belt use in Indiana declined for the first time in five years from 94.9 percent before the pandemic to 92.9 percent.
Operation Belt Up was activated to address this issue and encourage the remaining 7 percent to buckle up. “It’s very concerning to see seat belt use heading in the wrong direction in Indiana,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “Almost half of the people who lost their lives last year in fatal collisions were unbuckled. We’re working to turn this around, but we need everyone’s help.”
The department wants to remind motorists that buckling up is not only the law, but it’s also a matter of life or death. In Indiana, drivers and passengers can be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt. Drivers can also be cited for each unbuckled passenger under the age of 16. Additionally, children under eight must be properly restrained in a federally approved child or booster seat.
For more information on seat belt safety, click here, or to learn more about Jasper Police Department, please visit: jasperindiana.gov.