Coatesville Police make inroads with teen seatbelt initiative

Surveys at start and end of enforcement period show improved compliance

Image 1By Kathleen Brady SheaManaging Editor, The Times

A teen seatbelt enforcement initiative yielded positive results, Coatesville Police said on Thursday, March 27.

Coatesville Police Sgt. Rodger H. Ollis Jr. said surveys that were conducted at the beginning and end of the enforcement period – Feb. 20 and March 27 – showed increased compliance. He said 24 extra hours of enforcement were conducted between March 3 and March 21  as part of Buckle Up PA, a program funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

During the zero-tolerance enforcement period, Ollis said dozens of citations were issued. Although the focus of the program was teen seatbelt use, police found a wide range of offenses  from  moving violations to driving with a suspended license to failure to use seatbelts. The latter became a primary offense in Pennsylvania in 2012 for any occupants of a car under 18; that means that police can pull over a vehicle for that violation alone. Education was also stressed, Ollis said, explaining that announcements were made in school and safety materials were disseminated.

The teen seatbelt surveys were conducted by police in the City of Coatesville in an area used by many high school students traveling to school: North 11th Avenue and East Chestnut Street, Ollis said.

“I was encouraged by parents and Coatesville Area School District staff members thanking us for our efforts, the increased percentage of compliance, and some familiar faces from the pre-enforcement survey that were not buckled up on Feb. 20 but properly buckled up on March 27,” Ollis said.

The survey showed 189 teens in seatbelts on Feb. 20, and 34 who were not. By March 27, the number of buckled teens was 205, with only 16 unbelted, Ollis said.

Ollis said the department was pleased with the number. “I was hoping for 100 percent compliance, but we are moving in the correct direction,” he said.

Coatesville Area Senior High Principal Robert Fisher agreed, applauding the safety initiative. “Our numbers for ‘seatbelt wearers’  were much better with the second check; however, we will not rest until we are at 100 percent,” Fisher said.  ”Personally, it has increased my own awareness, and I have developed a better habit of buckling up each and every time I get behind the wheel.

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