Idaho State Police stress seatbelt enforcement

Staff Writer | August 20, 2020 1:00 AM

BONNERS FERRY — Idaho State Police issued over 300 citations between July 25 and Aug. 7 during a focus on seat belt education and enforcement.

According to ISP Communications Director Lynn Hightower, there were 65 citations issued in District 1.

District 1 stretches from the southern boundaries of the Coeur d’ Alene Indian Reservation to the Canadian border, encompassing all the northern panhandle counties of Idaho and including Boundary County.

Enforcement of a seat belt is considered a secondary violation and drivers must be pulled over for suspicion of violating another law.

“The majority of those [seatbelt citations] were issued to motorists in Kootenai County, with a handful issued in Bonner and Boundary counties,” Hightower said.

The focus on seatbelt enforcement is in hopes Idaho motorists take responsibility for their safety by putting on a seatbelt.

According to the Idaho Transportation Department’s Office of Highway Safety, between 2014-18, 82 percent of unrestrained fatalities happened in rural roads.

A national study from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, found additionally, that the more rural an area is, the higher the risk of motor vehicle crash-related deaths.

The CDC study cited a lower rate of seat belt use in rural areas as a contributing factor to the higher death rate.

According to the NHTSA data for 2017, nearly 15,000 people survived crashes that would have otherwise been fatal due to wearing a seatbelt.

Hightower expressed concern that too often, families in rural areas are often heavily affected by the loss of life because of not wearing a seatbelt.

According to ISP Trooper, Max Mohr, Idaho’s rural communities have some of the most beautiful roads but are equally dangerous.

“Curvy roads and lack of shoulders can make a scenic drive turn into a disaster in seconds,” Mohr said.

Mohr has seen the lifesaving benefits of wearing a seatbelt but has seen those who weren’t so lucky.

“Unfortunately, I have also witnessed several not so lucky motorists who decided not to take a brief second to click their seatbelt,” Mohr said.