Seat belt wearers to be rewarded by NIU police

By Julie Listek

NIU police are taking part in a state-wide “safety belt blitz” program by issuing warnings and citations for safety belt violations.

The program is a three-week nationally-concentrated effort to support the use of seat belts. It is sponsored by the Illinois Coalition for Safety Belt Use.

University Police Lt. Ken Kaiser said Illinois encouraged all law enforcement agencies to hand out information about the enforcement weeks, and issue warnings and citations for violators of the law.

The first week of the program, Nov. 17 to Nov. 23, was provided for police to get the word out. This was designed to inform the public about the “blitz” they could expect in the next two weeks.

From Nov. 24 to Nov. 30, police state-wide handed out warnings and citations for violations of the seat belt law.

As of Tuesday and until Sunday, the game is up. People caught for another violation without their seat belts on will get added citations.

The additional part of Illinois’ state-wide program is the “safety belt blitz lottery.” Lottery tickets are available for those who have been issued citations but have been wearing their safety belts.

“A (lottery) ticket may also be given out to those wearing their seat belts, but have not been pulled over,” Kaiser said. “For example, the pay lot attendants may give out the (lottery) ticket to those who leave with their seat belts on.”

The lottery will consist of two $500 winners and four $250 winners. The drawing will be in Springfield, Jan. 13, 1992.

Kaiser said he hopes to see a 75 percent compliance with the seat belt law.

“All officers have to enforce the safety belt law and as a combined effort they are recommended to operate their vehicles with the headlights on to show their support,” he said.

The belts are 40 to 50 percent effective in reducing automobile deaths and 45 to 55 percent effective in reducing injuries. Between 1983 and 1989, seat belts saved 15,000 lives.

“With media attention and the amount of inquiries received, it should bring on a much greater amount of awareness,” Kaiser said.