Members of local law enforcement, along with our friends Vince and Larry, the Crash Dummies, gathered together on a clear, chilly morning in front of Tallahassee Police Department headquarters to kick off this year's National Child Passenger Safety Week (February 9-17). Each year, the national campaign focuses on the importance of making sure our children are buckled up on America's roadways. This year's message is loud and clear: "There are NO EXCUSES for not buckling up our children!" Coinciding with National Child Passenger Safety Week is another Buckle Up Florida Enforcement Wave in which law enforcement will take an even stronger "zero tolerance" stance against those who fail to wear their seat belts or ensure their children are properly secured.
The Press Conference began with opening remarks by Chief Walter McNeil of the Tallahassee Police Department, followed by some child passenger safety updates delivered by Colonel Chris Knight.
With over 96% of all child safety seats improperly installed, according to a 2001survey conducted by AAA Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians nationwide, it has become imperative that something be done to assist the public in ensuring their children are properly restrained. In response to a request by Buckle Up Florida to hold Child Passenger Safety Events in all 67 counties in Florida, the Florida Highway Patrol, along with other law enforcement and community health agencies, has set up numerous Child Passenger Safety Checks throughout Florida. In fact, in the Department of Transportation's District #3 16-county area along Florida's Panhandle, law enforcement agencies were able to reach 100% compliance with this request by setting up two dozen events - including at least one CPS event in each of the sixteen counties!
Also in attendance at the Press Conference was Mr. Bill Montford, Superintendent of Leon County Schools, who also spoke a few words on behalf of local teachers and faculty expressing support for seat belt usage among all of our children. After the brief speeches, the crowd watched a heart-wrenching video of a Florida teen who was killed because she was not wearing her seat belt, while her twin sister lived because she was wearing one.
At the conclusion of the Press Conference, a member of the Florida Highway Patrol demonstrated the Rollover Simulator, which shows what can happen to unrestrained occupants in the event of a rollover crash. The occupants, an adult and a child dummy, were almost immediately ejected each and every time, and were often crushed by the vehicle upon impact with the ground - a sobering reminder of the importance of wearing a seat belt and buckling up our children in child safety seats. Seat belts really do save lives!