Teen Drivers Urged to Buckle Up

Harrison County Sheriff's deputies pulled over dozens of teenage drivers at D'Iberville High Wednesday morning.

Most received tickets, but not the kind you're thinking. It's part of an ongoing campaign to convince students to buckle-up.

"Good morning," said school resource officer Rena Wiggins, as student drivers converged on the parking lot.

With so many teen traffic deaths recently, Harrison County deputies are promoting seat belt safety.

"Good morning. I noticed this morning you're wearing your seat belt. Is that a habit you've gotten into? That's a great habit to be in," said Deputy Wiggins, to a somehwhat embarrassed teen behind the wheel of a truck.

"That's a courtesy citation for wearing your belt. You take that by the office after first period and they'll give you a gift certificate to Chili's," she explained.

Deputies stage the early morning stops in the student parking lot at D'Iberville High.

"We're just checking to see how many kids are buckling up. Giving out a little positive promotion to those that do," said Deputy Wiggins.

"The sheriff's department wants to encourage you to wear your seat belt and buckle up. We care about your safety, all right? Thank you," she said.

Accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers ages 16 to 18. It's a fact that's hit painfully close to home recently. Since the first of the year, 18 young people have been killed on South Mississippi roadways.

"I noticed that both of y'all are wearing your seat belts this morning. That is a good thing," said the deputy, praising a pair of seat belt wearing teen age girls.

Not all students receive rewards. Some get warning tickets for not buckling up.

Robert admitted he seldom buckles up.

"Not really," he said, shrugging his shoulders.

Robert's lack of a belt earned him a warning ticket.

"All right Robert, there you go. That's just a warning," said Deputy Jim Rungo.

"It's so important to instill that in them when they're young, so they make that a positive habit," said Deputy Wiggins.

Deputies reminded teens about the new "primary seat belt law" that takes effect May 27th. That law will allow law enforcement to ticket drivers solely for failing to buckle up. Under current law, an officer can issue a seat belt ticket only after stopping a driver for another offense.