Students Learn The Importance Of Seatbelts

Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for young adults between the ages of 15 and 20. In fact 8,175 drivers in that age group were involved in car wrecks last year 3,561 of those were killed and thousands of others seriously injured last year.

According to the National Safety Transportation Administration most of those young adults were not wearing seat belts. Hancock Medical Center's school nurses have teamed up with the Hancock County Sheriff's Department to educate students about the importance of buckling up.

They call it operation buckle-up, And this week they will target schools in Hancock County. They kicked off the holiday campaign at Hancock High Monday morning. Ella Mae Penton, School Nurse at Hancock High says "

Operation Buckle Up is a traffic stop to check seat belts and car seat safety for the passengers and for the drivers we put the responsibility on the driver to make sure their passengers are wearing seat belt or car seats." Violators are not ticketed during the stop, instead they are given literature explaining why it's important to strap yourself in.

Parents and students who were buckled up received candy and a note thanking them for playing it safe. Penton, says " A person who is not buckled in is a flying object hat goes however fast your vehicle is going say your vehicle is going 25 miles and hour and most people drive much faster than that if you're not restrained then you become a flying object at what ever weight you are until your stopped by the dash or the windshield or pavement when you fly out of your vehicle. " Out of the 211 cars stopped Monday morning, Only 47 were found unbuckled.

But still Law enforcers like Harold Hirsch with the Hancock County Sheriff's Department says he'd like to see that number decrease to zero." We're trying to impress not just the holidays but year round that seat belts are important to everybody." Lt. Ray Billeaud, also with the Sheriff's Department says " if we can impress on them now to wear their seat belts now when they get older and get families of their own hopefully they will impress their kids to wear their seat belts." Both reminded parents and students that buckling up is also the law In Mississippi.

Right now Mississippi has what is called a secondary seat belt law. That means law enforcers can only ticket stopped motorists for violating the law in conjunction with another traffic violation. School nurses would like to see a primary seat belt law passed which would stiffen the penalties for unbuckled drivers. The campaign heads to Bay High, Hancock and Bay Middle Schools later this week.