Police buckle down on night drivers

Island County sheriff deputies and troopers from the Washington State Patrol will conduct special nighttime patrols this week to search for people not using their seat belts.

The enforcement effort kicks off Thursday, May 21. Roughly 70 law enforcement agencies across the state will be participating in the nighttime patrols.

“We all felt it was important to show our commitment for these patrols and for putting an end to needless and preventable deaths and injuries as a result of crashes in which the driver or passengers were unbuckled,” said Sgt. Rick Norrie of the Island County Sheriff’s Office.

The patrols will run through June 7. Police are focusing on nighttime drivers because research shows the number of people killed at night in traffic collisions is about the same as the number of people killed during the day, even though approximately 80 percent of Washington traffic occurs during the day. This means that the death rate at night is four times higher than during the day.

Officials with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission said studies have discovered which drivers are more likely to not use safety belts. Citing a study conducted by the University of North Carolina, commission officials said unbuckled drivers are more likely to be male, have less education, have numerous traffic violations on their records (DUI, running red lights, following too closely, speeding), and have no health insurance.

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