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Graduation season road blocks, seatbelt enforcement keep territory safe

The Department of Public Safety’s annual graduation season road blocks, which coincided with the "Click It or Ticket" campaign, have ended successfully.

This was the statement by Commander of DPS Traffic Division, Lieutenant Ta’aloloioufaiva John Cendrowski. He explained that "Click It or Ticket" is a national campaign and  is coordinated annually by the Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to promote the proper use of seat belts. This year’s campaign was from May 21 through to June 3, 2012.

The Lieutenant said within the two weeks of their enforcement they caught 15 individuals driving under the influence of alcohol and issued more than 2,000 traffic citations.

Ta’aloloioufaiva noted there were no major car accidents; it was a peaceful and very calm graduation season for the traffic division.

He added there was one accident in Aua, however those injured sustained only minor injuries, and thankfully there was no major accident this year.

The traffic commander said he’s very happy with the enforcement and said there was not one graduate pulled over for being behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol.

Ta’aloloioufaiva said the 2,000 citations were mostly for seatbelt violations, running stop signs, child restraint violations, and speeding tickets.

“The first week of the enforcement, police officers issued numerous citations pertaining to wearing seat belts.” 

The Traffic Commander strongly emphasized the importance of wearing seat belts when in a moving vehicle. He added that despite that our speed limit is 25-30 miles an hour, it’s a must to wear your seat belt.

“It's been proven time and again, that seat belts save lives in car accidents. Ta’aloloioufaiva said that in the United States where the speed limit is up to 50 miles an hour, more than 15,000 lives are saved each year because drivers and their passengers were wearing seat belts when they were in accidents.

He told Samoa News that it’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure that the passengers in the vehicle are wearing their seat belts.

“Most of the time, when police pull a car over, the driver is wearing a seat belt and the passenger isn’t, why?  Everyone in a moving vehicle must wear seat belts, except those who ride in the bed of the truck”.

Ta’aloloioufaiva explained that seat belts prevent occupants of the vehicle from serious injury in five ways.

He said that during a car accident seat belts keep the occupants inside the vehicle. “People thrown from a vehicle are four times more likely to be killed than those who remain inside.”

Second, seat belts restrain the strongest parts of the body. 

“Restraints are designed to contact your body at its strongest parts. “For an older child and adult, these parts are the hips and shoulders, which is where the seat belt should be strapped.

Third it spreads out any force from the collision. “Lap-and-shoulder belts spread the force of the crash over a wide area of the body.

“By putting less stress on any one area, they can help you avoid serious injury.” He said that a shoulder strap also helps keep your head and upper body away from the dashboard, steering wheel, and other hard interior parts of the automobile should you stop suddenly or be hit by another vehicle.

Fourth, it helps the body to slow down. A quick change in speed and seat belts help extend the time it takes for you to slow down in a crash.”

Fifth it protects your brain and spinal cord. A seat belt is designed to protect these two critical areas. “Head injuries may be hard to see immediately, but they can be deadly.”

“Likewise, spinal cord injuries can have serious consequences".

The Lieutenant reminds the public that children under the age of one and those who weigh less than 20 pounds should sit in rear-facing child safety seats, and should be placed in the backseat of the car.

Ta’aloloioufaiva  said that children older than one year who weigh more than 20 pounds should ride in forward-facing child safety seats. “The seat should be placed in the rear of the vehicle until the child reaches the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat.”

He added that children ages four years and older who weigh more than 40 pounds should ride in booster seats.

“A child can safely progress to a seat belt when the belt fits properly across the upper thighs and chest”. He says that when children outgrow their booster seats, they can use seat belts, but they still should sit in the back of the vehicle.

The traffic commander asked, “Why is it so hard to put on the seat belt? It takes only a few seconds to buckle up once you get in the car."

Ta’aloloioufaiva commended the police officers who worked around the clock during the graduation enforcement and noted that they were very aggressive in carrying out their duties.