Seat-belt citations continue to fall
The 2,433 violations represent a 2% drop from 2005's campaign
More Hawaii motorists are apparently buckling up as the number of citations issued during the state's annual "Click It or Ticket" seat belt enforcement campaign continues its five-year downward trend.
From May 15 to June 3, police from four counties issued 2,433 citations for all front seat occupants and back seat passengers under the age of 18 who were not buckled up.
This is a 2 percent decrease from 2,483 citations issued last year.
More Maui and Big Island motorists were cited for not buckling up, but fewer tickets on Oahu and Kauai brought the statewide number down.
This year, violators were subject to a $92 fine, one of the highest in the country.
Police said the campaign focused on groups with the lowest rating in compliance with seat belt laws: pickup truck drivers and young adults ages 18 to 25.
While police stopped motorists for not buckling up, they also issued citations for other infractions such as driving under the influence, without a license and without insurance.
Motorists with passengers under age 4 not in a child safety seat were also issued a citation requiring them to attend a four-hour class and pay a fine ranging between $100 and $500.
Following last year's campaign, Hawaii had the highest seat belt usage percentage in the nation -- 95.3 percent of Hawaii drivers buckled up compared with the national average of 82 percent.
Hawaii's seat belt usage national ranking for this year was not available at the time of publication.
Although the "Click It or Ticket" campaign officially ended Saturday, police said they would continue the increased attention to enforcing Hawaii's 1985 seat belt law until June 16.
"We're going to continue to keep the pressure on," Sgt. Dexter Veriato of the Hilo Police Department's Traffic Division said. "Just because the campaign is over, it doesn't mean people should stop buckling up."
New law requires children under 8 to use booster seats
All Hawaii vehicle passengers under age 8 will be required to use a child safety or booster seat, according to a new law effective Jan 1.
Currently, only passengers under age 4 are required to use a child safety seat. Drivers of vehicles violating this law are required to attend a four-hour class and pay a fine ranging between $100 and $500. The new law signed by Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona yesterday amends the law to raise the age to 8.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts will not fully restrain a child in a crash because they are designed for adults with full physical development.
The agency reported that the use of booster seats lowers the risk of injury to children in crashes by 59 percent, yet only 10 to 20 percent of children ages 4 through 8 use them.
The new law has two exceptions. It does not require the following to use a booster seat:
» Passengers weighing more than 40 pounds and traveling in a vehicle with only lap belts in the back seat.
» Passengers who are taller than 4 feet 9 inches.
Hawaii police issued 62 citations for child safety seat violations last year during the state's Click It or Ticket campaign
Sgt. Robert Lung of the Honolulu Police Department's Traffic Division said police would work with the state Department of Transportation and Department of Health on a public education campaign prior to the effective date.