Seat belt campaign starts Monday

Published 12:33 am Saturday, May 19, 2012

Beginning Monday, extra police patrols will be on the road as Covington County law enforcement agencies share in $250,000 award from the governor’s office to make Alabama roadways safer during the week before and after Memorial Day.

Gov. Robert Bentley announced the nine grants Friday morning, which included a $27,150 award to Enterprise-Ozark Community College for the Southeast Alabama Traffic Safety Office, which serves Barbour, Butler, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Pike counties.

The funds will cover overtime pay for police officers and sheriff’s deputies during the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign that runs May 21 – June 3. Officers will emphasize enforcement of the state’s seat belt laws by conducting safety checkpoints and increasing the number of patrols on Alabama roads.

David Anderson with the Covington County Sheriff’s Office said deputies will be utilizing the grant funds.

“We got a ‘small’ grant award, and we will be doing saturation patrols and a few safety checkpoints starting Monday,” Anderson said.

Andalusia Police Chief Wilbur Williams said the APD also received a grant and will be working overtime to address speeders, impaired drivers and seatbelt violations.

“We expect to have at least two officers assigned during the holiday weekend,” he said.

Other municipal departments will also be working the roads as part of the initiative.

Since the first Alabama “Click It or Ticket” campaign in 2001, seatbelt usage has gone from 79 percent to 88 percent among Alabama drivers as of 2011.

“The ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign has made travel safer by encouraging more Alabamians to buckle up,” Bentley said. “This year our law enforcement officers will work hard to build on the progress that has been made and will work to prevent more injuries and fatalities on our roads.”

While “Click It or Ticket” covers specific dates, Bentley urged motorists to obey seatbelt and traffic safety laws throughout the year.