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Police to step up seat-belt patrols

Darleene Barrientos

Many major injuries stemming from car accidents could have been

avoided if passengers wore their seat belts, so California Highway

Patrol and Burbank Police will be out in full force during the


holidays to enforce safety-restraint laws.

With a $35,000 grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety,

local law-enforcement agencies want to help drivers enjoy their

Thanksgiving holiday by increasing enforcement aimed for people not


wearing their seat belts on streets and highways.

“Thanksgiving is historically the most heavily traveled time of

the year,” CHP Officer Vince Bell said.

A huge percentage of California drivers and passengers wear their

seat belts -- 91% -- but 9% of 30 million people means about 3

million people are not wearing any restraints in their cars, Bell


Seat belts could have prevented many horrific injuries in


accidents that have happened on local highways, Bell said.

On May 15, doctors had to amputate the arm of a 28-year-old Covina

woman after her 2000 GMC Yukon struck a 1994 Honda Accord on the

Foothill (210) Freeway east of Lowell Avenue and landed on its side.

The woman, who was not wearing her seat belt, was partially ejected

from the vehicle.

Conversely, a rollover crash a few years ago on the Foothill

Freeway killed two people, one of whom was sitting next to a


2-year-old boy strapped into a car seat who was not injured because

he was properly restrained, Bell said.

The enforcement is part of the CHP seat-belt campaign, “Remember.

Or Be Remembered.”

Burbank Police Lt. Rick Madrid said his department plans on

running weekly traffic safety tips during “Street Beat,” a program

airing on Charter Communications Channel 6.

Although drivers should wear their seat belts year round, Madrid

emphasized the importance of doing so over the holiday weekend.

“People are out shopping and maybe thinking about gifts or finding

parking spaces and not paying enough attention to their driving,” he

said. “As a result, there could be an increase in traffic accidents

and injuries.”