Respect for the law
The Virginia police action starts with the scare campaign, and the individual tragedy that justifies a sweeping law:
Area police will be stepping up enforcement over the next two weeks with saturation patrols, checkpoints and a “zero tolerance” attitude to crack down on motorists caught without a seatbelt.
Police hope the effort — part of the annual “Click It or Ticket May Mobilization,” a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of buckling up — will make drivers and passengers more conscientious about protecting themselves.
“It’s so simple, it only takes a few seconds, and yet, time and again, we see individuals killed in traffic crashes who would have survived if they had been buckled up,” said Corinne Geller, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police.
Of the 749 people killed in Virginia traffic accidents last year, 60 percent were not wearing seatbelts, according to Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles statis- tics. An unbelted 16-year-old Wilson Memorial High School student was killed in March when her Jeep Wrangler overturned on a dirt road near Fishersville. [But here’s the twist]: But because Virginia is one of 24 states where not wearing a seatbelt is a secondary law — meaning motorists can only be ticketed if they are pulled over for another reason — enforcing it can be difficult, said Sgt. Monty Sellers of the Augusta County Sheriff’s Department.
[In other words, they have to find another violation to ticket you for in order to give you a second ticket just so they can save your life.]
During the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, sheriff’s deputies will be keeping a particularly close lookout for other violations, such as expired registration or inspection stickers, that will enable them to pull over drivers not wearing seatbelts, Sellers said. Checkpoints take this tactic a step further, allowing officers to get a closer look at vehicles and examine driver’s licenses and insurance and registration documents, Sellers said.
[Though the law clearly states that this is exactly what they can not do]:
A bill to institute primary seatbelt laws in Virginia was passed by the state Senate this year but stalled in a House committee. Such bills are introduced — and defeated — on an almost annual basis, said Judie Stone, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety [. . . ].
How can Virginia police mount a heavily-promoted campaign with the sinister title of “Click It or Ticket” and openly hope to stop people not wearing a seatbelt when they aren’t allowed to stop citizens for not wearing a seatbelt in the first place? Well, you simply stop everybody at the checkpoint. Then you can strictly monitor an action that you do not have the legal authority to strictly monitor in the first place.
—“ ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign to begin,” posted May 17 at newsvirginian.com