Honolulu seat-belt
citations hit 1,093

The 4 counties share a $250,000
federal grant to get more
drivers to buckle up

By Nelson Daranciang

By the time motorists spot a seat-belt checkpoint and scramble to buckle up, they are probably too late, said Maj. Robert Prasser, Honolulu Police Department Traffic Division.

"If they see you driving without a seat belt, they'll give you a ticket," said Prasser of police officers who are positioned to spot unbuckled motorists long before they reach the checkpoints.

Honolulu police handed out 1,093 seat belt citations, each with a $67 fine, and 34 child restraint tickets from May 20 through Saturday, the first five days of the "Click It or Ticket" campaign.

The campaign is a statewide effort to increase seat belt use. Citations for other violations such as not using child restraint seats are also being issued.

Neighbor island police departments started their campaigns a week earlier. Police officials in those counties said citations issued so far are:

>> Maui: 812 seat belt and six child restraint (May 13 through Monday)

>> Kauai: 261 seat belt and 15 child restraint (May 13 through Friday)

>> Big Island: 652 seat belt and child restraint (May 13 through Saturday)

"That's about what we expected," said Hawaii County police Sgt. Randy Apele, given the compliance rate and the additional resources for the campaign.

The four counties are splitting a $250,000 grant from the federal government for overtime and other expenses for the campaign.

The number of citations reported by Honolulu and Hawaii County police during the campaign only includes those issued by officers on overtime at designated seat-belt checkpoints.

The Maui and Kauai citations include those issued both on regular hours and overtime.

"We're doing most of the enforcement on regular time," said Kauai police Lt. Stanton Koizumi.

"The majority of citations are done on county time, not on overtime," said Maui police Lt. Charles Hirata.

Click It or Ticket ends June 6. To gauge the effectiveness of the campaign, the state Department of Transportation is conducting a compliance survey June 1-5.

"We know what (the compliance rate) was before the campaign, we'll see what it is after the campaign to see if it made a difference," said Gordon Hong, state Department of Transportation Safe Community Coordinator.

The state had an 83.5 percent compliance rate in the last survey conducted earlier this year.

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