Does Click-It or Ticket Save Lives

The Oskaloosa Police Department is working sTEP until September 7th.

The Oskaloosa Police Department is working sTEP until September 7th.

According to one Oskaloosa Police Officer, seat belts save lives.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The catch phrase of click-it or ticket-it often comes to mind when people think of buckling in as they get behind the wheel.

In Iowa, special Traffic Enforcement Program or sTEP is a high visibility program normally used during a holiday weekend. The extra officers on the streets help to remind motorists to slow down and buckle up.

This Labor Day Weekend sTEP will continue through September 7th, so if you’re thinking it will be safe to swing back to former habits, you may want to wait just a few more days.

The seat belt usage is once again the focus of the program. This law, even 25 years after its enactment, has been controversial at times and continues to be today, with calls for personal freedom in the usage of seat belts.

Oskaloosa police officer Jacob Vanderpol said he has seen the difference in what wearing a seat belt can make for occupants who are involved in traffic accidents. “Definitely wear your seat belt before you get out on the roadway,” says Vanderpol. “Buckle up before you start your car, and make it a habit.”

During his years in law enforcement, and specifically working sTEP, Vanderpol says “it doesn’t seem that [seat belt] usage has gone up tremendously,” and the amount of citations he issues remains pretty consistent. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that writing a citation to the public for violations is changing their habits.”

Vanderpol would like to see seat belt usage increase. He, like many others involved in emergency services, points towards the statistics that show wearing a seat belt during a traffic accident offers a higher chance of survival.

During an afternoon of working the sTEP portion of his day for the Oskaloosa Police Department, Vanderpol wrote nearly a dozen citations for seat belt violations. That ticket costs either the driver or passenger $127.50. In Oskaloosa, the fine itself is $50, plus an additional $17.50 in the Criminal Surcharge. The largest part of the fine is $60, which is for court costs.

In the State of Iowa from this past May 19th to June 1st, which was the last sTEP event, 38,923 citations were issued by departments across the state for infractions from speeding to seat belt usage.

The current sTEP will continue until September 7, 2014.

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