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The second annual Governor’s Occupant Protection Awards ceremony was held at the Hilton Lexington/Downtown Hotel. Awards were presented to officers with the most occupant protection citations in each agency and division. There are six divisions, broken down according to the number of officers within the agency, plus a division for Kentucky State Police.
Lt. Rick Jewell of the Taylorsville Police Department was one of those honored. He wrote over 50 seat belt and child restraint citations.
“Despite a wealth of data showing that seat belts and child restraints save lives, each year hundreds of unrestrained motorists lose their lives on Kentucky roadways,” said KOHS Director Bill Bell, who presented the awards. “These officers, their departments and agencies render a great service for public safety by enforcing our occupant protection laws.”
There were 721 total highway fatalities in Kentucky in 2011 with 576 killed in motor vehicles. Fifty-eight percent of those killed in motor vehicles were not wearing a seat belt.
“Our law enforcement is making a difference, as Kentucky’s seat belt usage rate increased by 1.5 percentage points in 2012 – to 83.7 percent from 82.2 percent in 2011,” said Bell. “However, there is still a great deal of work to be done. One fatality is too many.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts, when worn correctly, are proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat occupants by 45 percent – and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans. Also according to NHTSA, child restraints reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers in passenger cars and by 58 percent and 59 percent, respectively, in light trucks.