#039;Click it or Ticket#039; returns

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 16, 2003

Drivers in Covington County and all over the state will soon be given an extra incentive to wear their seat belts.

Beginning May 19, law enforcement agencies from al over the state will be participating in the third-annual "Click it or Ticket" campaign.

The campaign, involving state troopers, county sheriffs and local police departments, is designed to emphasize the importance of wearing seat belts, and during the campaign, drivers discovered not wearing their seat belts will be given a $25 ticket.

The campaign will be conducted through June 1, but the program focuses on the probable increase in traffic, as well as potential traffic fatalities, during the Memorial Day weekend May 24-26.

Last year the program had 800 checkpoints set up with more than 13,000 seat belt citations and 430 child restraint citations.

Andalusia Police Chief Wilbur Williams Jr. said he and his officers are getting geared up to participate in the effort once again.

"We have set aside two days (to participate in the effort) due to budget constraints," said Williams. "We have had to be a little more judicious with the money available so we have set aside May 19 and 23 for our part of the program."

He said the department will likely be conducting its Click it or Ticket efforts during the late afternoon or the early evening, and said the effort will concentrate on seat belts, drivers licenses, proper insurance forms and proper registration.

"Once again we will be trying to conduct the effort with as little inconvenience to our residents as possible," said Williams.

He noted that money made available to departments for this effort is designated strictly for seat belt issues so speeding will not addressed during this particular campaign.

"The grant (for "Click it or Ticket") is mainly for seat belts," said Williams. "If we

get some additional money down the road then we might do a speeding campaign. Speeding will be addressed in this city as we are receiving continuous complaints about speeding in various places in the city."

A major part of the upcoming campaign will deal with proper child safety seat restraints, and Williams said his department is fortunate to have an expert on the subject on his staff.

"A big part of the reason why we've been able to receive funding for our department's efforts is because we invested in having Sgt. (Charles) Bailey certified as a safety child seat technician," said Williams. "We will definitely have him out there inspecting child seats and making sure they are properly secured. We have always worked well with Wal-Mart in conducting what we call 'rodeos' and instructing people on how to properly install child seats. It is a fairly complicated process. We are happy to do it, though."

Williams noted that the past couple of "Click it or Ticket" campaigns for his department have met with much success.

"Statistics show that we were in first place among agencies our size and we've been able to compete with some of the larger departments in terms of contacts we have made on campaigns such as this," said Williams. "It is termed as a contact if you make a stop and give a ticket or even if you don't give a ticket. A lot of time the pavement is hot outside, but our officers have been out there and doing their jobs. We have been very successful (with the campaign.), and it is not just about writing tickets but informing and educating the