Major Ken Howes
Florida Highway Patrol
For Release February 5, 1998:
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Highway Patrol today announced the beginning of the 8th phase of Operation Beltway, a statewide occupant protection enforcement campaign designed to reduce traffic deaths and injuries by increasing Florida’s overall safety belt compliance rate. Operation Beltway, funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, began in March, 1996, when Florida’s overall safety belt compliance rate was only 58%. By the end of the 7th phase of the statewide campaign, which ended on November 27, 1997, the compliance rate had increased to 67%, according to thousands of informal surveys conducted throughout Florida.
Sheriff’s deputies and city police officers representing close to 100 local law enforcement agencies are expected to participate with FHP troopers during the week-long effort, scheduled to begin on Friday, February 6th, and end on Thursday, February 12th, to coincide with National Child Passenger Safety Week.
"Motor vehicle injury is one of the leading killers of children more than one year of age. Whether as occupants in motor vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists, too many children are seriously injured or killed in preventable crashes," said Lt. Colonel Paul Taylor, Interim Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. "Parents can help establish safe patterns of behavior by making sure that children age 12 and under always ride buckled up or in properly installed child safety seats in the back seat," Taylor added.
During the first 7 phases of Operation Beltway, officers have issued over 275,000 citations for various traffic offenses, including 57,628 for safety belt and 5,499 for child restraint violations. In addition, 1,550 felony arrests have been made, and 1,958 wanted persons have been apprehended.
Warnings are not issued for safety belt or child restraint violations during the strict enforcement period. Motorists who are stopped for a traffic violation by a trooper or an officer from a participating agency during the week and are found to be unrestrained will receive a citation. The fine for a safety belt violation is $30, plus court costs. For child restraint violations, the fine is $60, plus court costs, plus 3 points assessed against the violator’s driving record.