The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) honored law enforcement officers from 120 agencies across the Commonwealth Friday, including several local officers, for their efforts to increase the use of seat belts and child restraints in motor vehicles.
The Governor’s Occupant Protection Enforcement Awards ceremony was held at the Hyatt Regency in Lexington. Awards were presented to officers with the most occupant protection citations in each agency and in each division. There are six divisions, broken down by number of officers within the agency, and a division for Kentucky State Police.
“These officers, their departments and agencies render a great service for public safety by enforcing our occupant protection laws,” KOHS Acting Executive Director Jason Siwula said before presenting the awards. “Officers would rather write a seat belt or car restraint citation than make a death notification.”
Williamsburg Police Lt. Brandon White led his department in the effort, and issued the third most citations in the division two category, which includes departments with 11-25 officers.
Corbin Police Major David Maiden received the award for his department in division two along with Barbourville Police Officer Adam Townsley.
Laurel County Sheriff’s Deputy Rick Cloyd and London Police Patrolman Andrew Lawson lead their respective departments, which are in division three, which is agencies with 26-50 officers. Cloyd issued the second most citations in division three.
Pineville Police Officer Brandon Hollingsworth won for his department in division one, which is agencies with 1-10 officers.
All winners received a plaque, while the top three division winners were presented with the Highway Safety All-Star Award – a commemorative baseball bat from Louisville Slugger.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts, when worn correctly, are proven to reduce the risk of fatal injuries to front-seat occupants by 45 percent and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans. Also, according to NHTSA, properly installed child restraints reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers in passenger cars. In light trucks, SUVs and minivans, properly restrained child restraints reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 58 percent for infants and 59 percent for toddlers.
“Kentucky will continue to raise awareness and increase enforcement of this life-saving measure,” said Siwula. “Writing citations is not a strategy designed to increase arrests; in fact, it may result in decreased citation counts over time, which is our goal.”
With the passage of the primary law, Kentucky’s seat belt usage rate increased from 67 percent in 2006 to 89.9 percent in 2018.