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Police officers will be out in full force for graduation

“There should be a law in place to disallow passengers to sit in the beds of pick-up trucks,” said Commander of the Traffic Division with the Department of Public Safety Muagututi’a Captain John Cendrowski. Muagututi’a, responding to Samoa News questions on the annual graduation enforcement, which kicked off on Monday.


Muagututi'a  said he feels that there should be a law in place to discontinue this practice for the safety of everyone, especially children who are sitting in the bed of the trucks, because when there is an accident, there are no seat belts — and there’s no way of assuring that children or adults will not fly out of the truck bed.


He noted that he has brought this to the Commissioner’s attention and they are currently working with the Attorney General’s office to determine if this should become a law.


“Or — we wait until something happens, and then we act… no, no, no, we must act to prevent accidents and this is one way — to discontinue allowing passengers to sit in the bed of pick-up trucks,” he said.


Regarding the graduation enforcement, Muagututi’a noted that this enforcement is consistent with the "Click it or Ticket" campaign, which will also be underway at the same time.


 The Commander also said that officers will be seen in the area of each high school while they are holding their graduation ceremonies.


Muagututi’a is appealing to the public, especially to the parents to please be mindful that during coming days, our children who will be graduating will most likely be heading to parties, and he pleads with parents to please make sure that their children do not drink alcohol and get behind the wheel. “It’s our job as parents to make sure that our children know how dangerous it is to drink alcohol and drive," he said.


The Traffic Commander is also appealing to the public to please have a designated driver. “When you are behind the wheel and you’re intoxicated you place everyone on the road at risk. You may not think so, but that is definitely the case.”


The Traffic Commander told Samoa News that the Click It or Ticket campaign, which is nationwide, is coordinated annually by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to increase the proper use of seat belts. This campaign takes place May 20 to June 2, this year.


He said police officers will conduct intensive, high-visibility enforcement of seat belt laws, during both day and night time hours. During the day,  police officers will be looking at child restraint violators, occupant safety in vehicles, and people riding in the bed box of the vehicle. They will also look for children who are unsupervised while in the bed of the vehicle, speed and seatbelt violators and those caught driving under the influence of alcohol.


At night, they will target those driving under the influence of alcohol. He noted that there will be an increase of police officers seen patrolling the main highway and specifically focusing on seat belt use and police are warning motorists to buckle up as the “Click It or Ticket” campaign will be in full force.


He strongly emphasized the importance of wearing seat belts when in a moving vehicle. Muagututi’a added that despite that our speed limit being 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," he stated, adding 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 also 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.”


Muagututi’a explained that seat belts prevent occupants of the vehicle from serious injury . 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.”


Seat belts “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.”


 He explained, “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.”


Muagututi’a 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.


“Seat belts helps the body to slow down. With a quick change in speed, seat belts help extend the time it takes for you to slow down in a crash. They protect your brain and spinal cord."


 A seat belt is designed to protect these two critical areas he added. “Head injuries may be hard to see immediately, but they can be deadly. Likewise, spinal cord injuries can have serious consequences,” Muagututi’a stated.