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Police eye seat belt violators over holiday

BY CARRIE DILLARD cdillard@paducahsun.com

Memorial Day. It's the official start of summer vacation season.

Kids are out of school; most adults get a three-day weekend. It's a time not only for remembering U.S. soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom, but for backyard cookouts and boating.

But as motorists are traveling to and from their weekend destinations, the Kentucky State Police want to remind them to buckle up. They will be on the lookout for seat belt violations.

"As motorists take to the roads to celebrate the long Memorial Day weekend, we want to ensure that everyone arrives at their destination safe and sound," Post 1 Captain Nathan Kent said. "We'll be out in force - day and night - prepared to ticket anyone not wearing a seat belt."

The national "Click It or Ticket" campaign started May 19 and runs until June 1. The Kentucky State Police Post 1 is especially targeting McCracken, Graves, Marshall and Calloway counties and plans several traffic checkpoints.

"These four counties are needing extra attention regarding seat belt enforcement," said Trooper Jay Thomas, public affairs officer. "They are below the state average (in seat belt usage)."

In 2013, the state average for seat belt usage was 85 percent, 2 percent lower than the national average.

"You hear all kinds of excuses why people don't wear their seat belts," Thomas continued, "but seat belts save lives."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, if worn properly, seat belt use reduces the chance of fatal injury by 45 percent for front-seat occupants and 60 percent for individuals in pickups, SUVs and minivans.

There were 638 total highway fatalities in Kentucky in 2013, with 483 killed in motor vehicles. Of those 483 fatalities, 278 were not wearing a seat belt.

"There are too many people dying on our roads," Kent said. "Many of those lives could have been saved with the simple snap of a seat belt."

Contact Carrie Dillard, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8657.

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