Minot sees decrease in seatbelt violations

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- So far this year, seatbelt violations on Minot Air Force Base have decreased almost 70 percent from 2005.

According to Tech. Sgt. William Wilson, 5th Security Forces Squadron Law Enforcement superintendent, the dramatic decrease is a result of a two part effort.

"First, the base populace and the Air Force in general have been educated over the past few years that seatbelts do save lives," he said. "With that said, everyone has taken this to heart and began wearing seatbelts on a regular basis. As time passes, individuals become accustomed to wearing them and buckle up out of habit."

According to Sergeant Wilson, the second part of this effort is the penalties for not wearing seatbelts have greatly increased.

"The current policy for seatbelts on the base stays the same," he said. "Seatbelts for the operators and passengers in all vehicles are mandatory while on base. The only change is to the actions taken once a violation has been identified."

The current policy states, operators and passengers of all vehicles operated on Air Force installations must wear restraint systems. Vehicles manufactured or assembled before January 1, 1965, without restraint systems are exempt from this requirement unless transporting a child. In addition, operators and passengers of Government Owned Vehicles must wear restraint systems when driving or riding off the installation as well. Individuals receiving tickets for failure to use seatbelts will, in addition to assessment of four traffic points and other action by the commander, have their driving privileges suspended in accordance with the following:

First offense: 30 day suspension

Second offense: 180 day suspension

Third offense: 365 day suspension

"This has a resounding effect on co-workers and friends who have to bear the burden of assisting the individual with their travel needs," he said. "Every installation has a 100 percent seatbelt use policy which they enforce. Each policy differs from base to base with at a minimum, points being assessed to the individuals on base driving record."

The driver of a vehicle is responsible for ensuring all passengers wear a seatbelt while on the installation. If an individual is observed not wearing their seatbelt the vehicle can be stopped and the driver issued a citation. Once the citation is processed the driver will be notified in writing of the suspension of their driving privileges. Anyone wishing to rebut the ticket should contact their first sergeant for the correct procedures.

"The seatbelt policy benefits Minot and the entire Air Force by keeping ourselves and our families safe," said Sergeant Wilson. "It drastically reduces the severity of injuries sustained in accidents which allows individuals to be back at work in a shorter period of time following an accident. This saves Minot and the Air Force money for down time and medical care."
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