By IVY HERRON
The Clay County Sheriff's Department will participate in a statewide safety belt enforcement blitz in an effort to prepare people for the important changes in the Indiana seat belt laws on July 1, 2005.
"Without a doubt the most effective way to prevent injuries in an accident is the proper use of seat belts," said Rob Carter, Clay County Sheriff.
Approximately 54 percent of children traveling in vehicles are unrestrained and at serious risk for fatal injuries in accidents according to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Board.
"We see first hand the tragedy of a child not placed in proper vehicle safety restraints," Sheriff Carter said, explaining the need for all parents to use safety precautions not only for their children, but themselves as well. "It's something that my family practices on a daily basis."
The new law will require all children to be properly secured while traveling in a vehicle.
-Children under the age of eight will need to be properly secured in the appropriate child safety seats or booster seats.
-Children up to the age of 16 need to be properly restrained in a child restraint system or a safety belt in all seating positions in all vehicles
-Children over 16 must be restrained in all seating positions while riding in a vehicle.
Those who violate the new law will commit a Class D infraction, which carries a $25 fine.
Fines collected under the new law will be deposited into a state fund to create grants. Those grants will be available for public or private organizations to purchase and distribute child restraint systems to those who are otherwise unable to afford them.
But the fine can be avoided by offenders if they prove that an adequate restraint system for their children has been provided.
Law enforcement personnel will be at a heightened awareness for both possible seat belt violations and car safety seat violations over the next few months in hopes of educating people before the new law takes effect this summer.
A booster seat education campaign will also take place through Feb. 19 as a way to educate the public about the benefits of child restraint systems.
The campaign is sponsored by the Governor's Council on Impaired and Dangerous Driving, a division of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, and federal funding by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Indiana Enacts New Child Restraint Law
With 694 children between the ages of 0-14 injured every day in motor vehicle crashes during 2003, a new child restraint law will be enacted this summer.
All children under eight must be properly secured in a child safety or booster seat.
All children to the age of 16 must be properly restrained in a child restraint system or a safety belt in all seating positions in all vehicles.
Children over the age of 16 must be restrained when riding in the front seat of any passenger vehicle.
Four types of child restraints
1. Rear-facing car seats are used for infants from birth to one year and 20-22 pounds.
2. Forward-facing car seats are used for growing children from one year and 20-40 pounds.
3. Booster seats are used for children age five and older that are four feet and nine inches and 80 pounds to raise them up high enough in the seat for car safety belts to fit properly.
4. Car safety belts are used for children too big for booster seats. Seat belt usage should continue throughout life