[Alexandria, LA] — The Alexandria Police Department (APD) is one of two departments in the nation participating in a U.S. Department of Transportation demonstration aiming to improve lagging seat belt usage in rural America.
According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, about 60 percent of drivers in fatal crashes in Rapides Parish are unrestrained at the time of the crash[i]. If all those drivers had been wearing a seat belt, it is estimated that more than half would have survived their injuries. Observational surveys conducted in Rapides Parish from 2015-2019 indicate that close to 20 percent of front seat motor vehicle occupants are not buckled.[ii]
“A lot of people think that not wearing a seat belt is a decision that only affects the person who chooses not to wear it but it’s usually the victim’s family who is left with an emotional and financial burden after a fatal or serious injury crash,” said Sgt. Stephen Bankston, commander of the Alexandria Police Department Traffic Division. “I think more people would buckle up if they asked themselves, ‘What would happen to my family, friends, or my job if I was seriously injured in a crash?’”
The year-long demonstration program will request personal responsibility from Rapides drivers and passengers. Motorists will be reminded throughout the year that:
- Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to protect one’s self from more severe injuries when in a crash.
- Life is precious and no one wants the burden of losing friends and family due to a preventable tragedy.
- Preventable injuries cost individuals, families, employers, and everyone else in the community time and money.
A $30,000 federal grant will fund the program, paying for the time and materials needed by the Alexandria Police Department to get the message out. APD patrol officers will increase seat belt patrols and will also spend time in the community encouraging seat belt usage.
The minimum fine for not wearing a seat belt in Louisiana is $50. #BuckleUpRapides!