Cape police use roadblock to encourage teens to buckle up

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Students driving out of the parking lot at Central High School Tuesday afternoon were surprised by a roadblock. Police officers checked about 113 vehicles for proof of insurance and driver's licenses.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has supplied a $2,160 grant to Cape Girardeau police enabling the department to participate in Operation Safe Teen, a new statewide enforcement and educational program aimed at reducing injuries and deaths among young drivers on Missouri roads.

Cape Girardeau traffic Sgt. Jack Wimp said officers issued 11 tickets Tuesday afternoon for seat belt violations and 25 to 30 warnings.

"What we're trying to do is get people to buckle up," Wimp said.

Wimp said that police will set up other roadblocks this month and in March targeting teenage drivers.

According to Wimp, one of the four people who were killed in accidents in the city limits in 2004 was a 17-year-old girl who was thrown from her vehicle after she lost control on South Kingshighway. Of the 1,956 reported vehicle accidents in the city limits, 330 involved boys under 21 and 352 involved girls. Of those 1,956 accidents, Wimp said, 159 people, drivers and passengers, told police they were not wearing seat belts, although there is no way of documenting that number, he said.

According to state figures, drivers under the age of 21 make up 10 percent of licensed drivers but are involved in nearly 30 percent of the traffic crashes statewide.

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