Troopers lauded for seat belt work

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

NEW ALBANY – Mississippi Highway Patrolmen in Troop F take seat belt and child restraint infractions seriously, and the numbers prove it.
This week 170 troopers statewide were honored by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and the Mississippi Office for Highway Safety for their continuing efforts to make sure state drivers buckle their seat belts when they get in a motor vehicle.
Sixteen officers from Troop F, which covers much of Northeast Mississippi, were honored for recording a combined 2,981 seat belt citations and 661 child restraint citations during 2009. Trooper Chaz Kennedy led the district with 418 seat belt citations followed by Trooper Jody Berryhill.
Trooper Ray Hall, spokesman for Troop F, said the unit has taken the primary seat belt law very seriously because they know it saves lives.
“It is proven seat belts do save lives,” said Hall. “These troopers have exemplified hard work to keep our citizens safe. For the first time in the past many years, the U.S. automobile fatality rate dropped below 40,000. A little over 37,000 deaths were recorded of which an average of 40 percent are unbuckled.”
According to the MDPS, for the first time statistics show more than three quarters of vehicle occupants in Mississippi are buckling up, but the 76 percent falls well short of the national average of 83 percent.
Hall said the troopers in Troop F and elsewhere in Mississippi will continue to crack down on people not complying with seat belt and child restraint laws.
“These laws save lives and we will do everything we can to make sure motorists on Mississippi highways are safe,” said Hall.

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.