Motorists had better buckle up, a highway patrol commander said.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Although a few more county motorists are wearing their seat belts, the Federal Highway Safety Administration still ranks Columbiana County last in compliance with Ohio's seat belt law.
Lt. George C. Williams, post commander, said the FHA's 2001 report shows county motorists' seat-belt compliance at 57.4 percent, up 1.2 percent from 2000.
Williams said troopers will continue monthly weeklong target enforcements of undisclosed sections of the county.
Can be cited: Although the enforcements are aimed at reducing crashes by slowing down speeding motorists, troopers also cite stopped motorists if they aren't wearing their seat belts, he said.
Williams said that though Ohio law makes seat-belt noncompliance a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement officers cannot stop a motorist simply for not wearing a seat belt, motorists stopped for primary violations shouldn't expect any leniency if they aren't wearing their seat belts.
Troopers will continue a zero tolerance policy toward motorists who aren't buckled up, Williams said.
Speed kills: In Columbiana County, speed continues to be the leading cause of traffic fatalities, followed by motorists' failure to yield the right-of-way, he said.
Troopers will also continue to emphasize seat belts during any educational or promotional events, he said.
Williams said the FHA gathers information for the annual seat belt study by providing funding for troopers to spend otherwise off-duty hours sitting in their personal vehicles in designated areas to track whether motorists are wearing their seat belts.