Memory of disabled police chief a sobering reminder to buckle up

As you tool around town enjoying your summer, there’s something the Tempe Police Department wants you to bear in mind: Wear your seatbelt.

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The message is part of the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign.

It’s also a reminder of the tragedy that befell 1980s-era Mesa Police Chief Leonard Kotsur, who was disabled and for the rest of his life confined to a wheelchair, partly as a result of not buckling his seatbelt on an afternoon trip to a nearby convenience store.

More recently, according to city-data.com, there were 19 fatal traffic accidents in Tempe in 2014.

Among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by serious injury by 50 percent.

“Tempe police continue to make traffic safety and DUI enforcement a top priority for our community,” said Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir.

Arizona has a secondary seat belt law, meaning that officers who pull over motorists for violations such as speeding can issue a citation for the non-use of seatbelts.   

The “Click It or Ticket” enforcement campaign is based upon high visibility traffic enforcement, with a zero-tolerance approach toward seat belt and child safety seat usage. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control, motor vehicle collisions continue to be a leading cause of death and serious injuries in Arizona.

Consistent seat belt use is the single most effective way to reduce fatalities and serious injuries, say accident tracking experts.

Those who do not wear a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash, and three out of four who are ejected suffer fatal injuries.

Molly Enright, public information officer for the Tempe police, said the department encourages the habit of securing yourself and any children safely in your vehicle, Enright said. 

“All too often police officers and firefighters respond to tragic injury and fatal collisions in which seat belts were not utilized. We ask that you make a commitment and a promise to your loved ones – always – to buckle up.”

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