Law enforcement officers, agencies honored for seat belt,child restraint enforcement

Published 9:49 am Thursday, August 8, 2019

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) honored law enforcement officers from 120 agencies across the Commonwealth today for their efforts to increase the use of seat belts and child restraints in motor vehicles.

Pineville Police Officer Brandon Hollingsworth and Middlesboro Police Sgt. Barry Cowan were recognized during the cermony for their efforts.

The Governor’s Occupant Protection Enforcement Awards ceremony was held at the Hyatt Regency in Lexington. Awards were presented to officers with the most occupant protection citations in each agency and in each division. There are six divisions, broken down by number of officers within the agency, and a division for Kentucky State Police.

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“These officers, their departments and agencies render a great service for public safety by enforcing our occupant protection laws,” KOHS Acting Executive Director Jason Siwula said before presenting the awards. “Officers would rather write a seat belt or car restraint citation than make a death notification.”

All winners received a plaque, while the top three division winners were presented with the Highway Safety All-Star Award – a commemorative baseball bat from Louisville Slugger.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts, when worn correctly, are proven to reduce the risk of fatal injuries to front-seat occupants by 45 percent and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans. Also according to NHTSA, properly installed child restraints reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers in passenger cars. In light trucks, SUVs and minivans, properly restrained child restraints reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 58 percent for infants and 59 percent for toddlers.

“Kentucky will continue to raise awareness and increase enforcement of this life-saving measure,” said Siwula. “Writing citations is not a strategy designed to increase arrests; in fact, it may result in decreased citation counts over time, which is our goal.”

With the passage of the primary law, Kentucky’s seat belt usage rate increased from 67 percent in 2006 to 89.9 percent in 2018.