Sheriff cracks down on buckling up

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 22, 2004


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – A nation-wide ‘Buckle Up In Your Truck’ campaign is being conducted in St. John the Baptist Parish Nov. 14-28 to increase awareness for safety belt use among drivers of pickup trucks.

Lt. Troy Cassioppi with the St. John the Baptist Parish Traffic Division said the aim of the campaign is to increase awareness and to save lives.

“We will significantly impact the parish with saturated patrols aimed at checking restraint usage in pick-up trucks and cars. We will also check for child restraint compliance,” said Cassioppi. “The Traffic Division received federal money to spend on increasing officer patrols and to set up traffic stops sporadically throughout the parish.”

Cassioppi said officers will set up and operate check points every day in various locations within the parish. He said officers patrolling the streets were instructed to look inside neighboring vehicles to identify whether or not drivers and passengers are using seat belts.

Surveys show 75 percent of motorists obey the law and use seat belts. However, Not buckling up is the leading cause of death in motor vehicle crashes.

A statement issued this month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration read, “In our south central region, there are over one million pickup truck drivers and occupants who are still not using safety belts. This results in more than 1,000 deaths of pickup truck occupants in the five states each year.”

NHTSA said safety belt use among pickup truck occupants is 5-15 percentage points lower in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas than the use rate for passenger cars.

Wednesday, five officers stationed at the intersection of Main Street and West Fifth issued 52 citations in approximately one hour.

“We want parish residents to know we are watching. We will also change our checkpoints daily so citizens will not know where to expect us,” warned Cassioppi.