Memorial Day weekend and Click it or Ticket

Published 5:10 pm Friday, May 23, 2008

The Poplarville and Picayune Police Departments will participate in the nationwide “Click it or Ticket” campaign while the Mississippi Highway Patrol will increase patrol during the Memorial Day weekend.

Poplarville Police Chief Charles Fazende said the department always watches for safety violations such as misuse or lack of use of child restraints and seatbelts, but the annual campaign is a way to put special emphasis on the need for these items. This year’s campaign began May 19, and will end June 1, Fazende said.

Highway Patrol Capt. Jimmy O’Banner said that during the Memorial Day weekend all troopers in the state of Mississippi will be looking for violations involving DUI, speeding and reckless driving.

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“They make our highways safe for the holidays,” O’Banner said.

Picayune also is participating in the effort to ensure that motorists buckle their safety belts and do not drive while intoxicated, Public Information Officer Capt. Theresa Milar said.

“The ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign is a way to pay more attention to the numerous seatbelt and child safety restraint violations. You wouldn’t believe the number of people we see that don’t wear a seatbelt or that don’t put their children in some sort of safety restraint… We’re dedicated to this campaign, and we want to do everything we can to help make the roads safer for everyone,” Fazende said.

The act of not wearing a seatbelt is a primary offense and gives an officer probable cause to perform a traffic stop, Fazende says.

“If an officer sees a motorist who is not wearing a seatbelt, he can stop that motorist, even if there are no other violations being committed,” said the chief.

Fazende says motorists wearing seatbelts improperly will not be ticketed, although they may be stopped by an officer who will explain the proper way to wear the belt.

“If an officer sees that an individual is buckled improperly, such as with a shoulder strap behind the back or under the arm, he will explain to the individual that is not the proper way to wear the device, and not the manufacturer’s intent. It’s not a safe way to wear the belt, because an improperly worn seatbelt doesn’t do its job,” Fazende said.

Fazende said the law requires children under age four be restrained in a safety seat. Children between four and eight years-old must be buckled in with a seatbelt or a booster seat, although anyone over eight years-old is not required by law to be buckled in the rear seat of the vehicle.

“All passengers in the front seat of a vehicle are required to wear safety belts, no matter their age. A child under the age of eight must be buckled in, no matter where they are sitting in the car. Eight years-old is the cut-off age, though. After that age, the law does not require them to be restrained in the back seat, although we do encourage it for safety reasons,” Fazende said.

Fazende says the “Click it or Ticket” campaign is a nationwide campaign that is usually organized around major holidays, such as Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Fourth of July. The campaign uses saturation patrols and safety checkpoints to encourage motorists to be safely restrained in the vehicle at all times.

Milar said road blocks will be conducted in Picayune at various times at the locations of Miss. 43 S., Miss. 43 N., Memorial Boulevard, North and South Beech Street, Jackson Landing Road, east and west Canal, U.S. 11 north and south and Goodyear Boulevard.

The Highway Patrol will be out this weekend conducting safety stops and checkpoints. Extra man hours will enable the entire force to patrol the highways, O’Banner said. Highway Patrol checkpoints and increased patrolling begins today at 6 p.m. and ends Monday at 2 a.m.

The Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department will be working with the Highway Patrol, Poplarville Police Department and the Picayune Police Department to conduct similar Memorial Day weekend surveillance.

“If they are located and apprehended, they will be dealt with swiftly,” said Chief Deputy Frank Vaccarela.

Extra deputy patrols will utilize extra training enabling them to find drivers who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Vaccarela asks that any resident who suspects they see an intoxicated driver to take a stand.

“We encourage people to call us if they see anyone that’s swerving… or driving in a manner that suggests they might be drunk,” Vaccarela said.

“Please don’t drink and drive, and follow the rules of the road. We’re hoping for a safe holiday this Memorial Day, and want to do our part to keep everyone safe,” Fazende said.