On Friday, April 24, 2015 students from Reitz Memorial High School assisted the Sheriff’s Office in conducting seat belt use surveys.

The surveys were part of the statewide Operation Pull Over program administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI). This week participating law enforcement agencies across Indiana will conduct visual surveys of vehicle traffic to determine the current level of seat belt compliance.

Today, the Sheriff’s Office and Reitz Memorial High School driver education students staffed pre-selected survey locations. Students (who were supervised by either a sheriff’s deputy or teacher) tallied the number of drivers and passengers who either did or did not buckle up. Students were also asked to take note of any distracted driving behavior they observed. Some of the comments from students included observations of: “texting while driving”, “near rear end collision”, “driver yelling at other driver”, “dog in driver’s lap”, and “talking on phone while drinking coffee”.

Sheriff Dave Wedding stated, “Partnering with Memorial High School is a great way for our office to accomplish multiple objectives. Not only is valuable seat belt usage data collected, but students get to see first hand just how prevalent the problem of unrestrained and distracted driving is.”

Nearly 1500 vehicles were counted in this morning’s survey. Passenger vehicles and trucks were tracked separately. Nearly 89 percent of passenger vehicle operators wore their seatbelts, while only 76 percent of truck operators did so. Last year’s survey had 90.5 percent of passenger vehicle operators and 82.5 percent of truck operators buckling up. Our local seat belt usage data is consistent with previously conducted ICJI research that shows pickup truck operators account for the lowest percentage of restraint use in the state – with a 79.2 percent seat belt usage rate versus a 93 percent usage rate for passenger vehicle operators.

Sheriff Wedding added, “Statewide more than 200 people have lost their lives in traffic crashes this year to date, that’s more than a 24% increase from where we were at the end of April in 2014. As parents, the best thing we can do to combat this trend and keep our young drivers safe is to lead by example. Parents who buckle up have kids who buckle up.”

Pictured above: Sheriff’s Office and Reitz Memorial High School driver’s education students.

Pictured above: Students count cars and indicate seatbelt use for survey.

Pictured above: Sheriff Dave Wedding and his survey team getting energized.