Law enforcement all across the country are participating in the 2019 Click It or Ticket campaign, and the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department is doing their part by having roadside safety checkpoints all throughout the heavy traffic areas within the county until the campaign ends on June 2nd. “Whether you’re going ten miles or 100 miles down the road, having that seatbelt on could save your life. I’ve been doing this for forty-five years, and I’ve been to many, many crash scenes where if the person would’ve had their seatbelt on, they wouldn’t have been ejected or impacted the steering wheel column or windshield,” said Sheriff Billy Sollie.
According to Sollie, statistically, the state of Mississippi is below the national standard on seatbelt usage, and a grant is given for deputies to work on their days off during this campaign. “A lot of people don’t realize that the law is such that it’s something that you have to do. Not just that you have to wear it, but you have to wear it the way it’s designed. If you wear it under your arm, across behind your back, or if a child that’s supposed to be in a booster seat is not, then it’s not going to function the way it’s designed, and it’s subject to cause more harm than good,” said Sergeant Andy Matuszewski.
However, these roadside safety checkpoints do more for those on the road than just ensuring seatbelt safety. “It could be something as significant as an out-of-state warrant. We’ve arrested people wanted for murder from other places on checkpoints because they didn’t have a seatbelt on or some other minor infraction,” said Matuszewski. “So, while we’re out enforcing the seatbelt and other protection laws, what you’re finding is that we’re also making the roads safer for our citizenry and maybe the other people who are visiting our areas for the holidays because we find other problems and deal with them accordingly.”
During a recent one-hour checkpoint, they gave citations for several suspended licenses, seized drugs from one driver, and took one driver to jail on an existing warrant. “So, that less than thirty seconds it takes for you to pull up to the deputy and have the deputy check your license, license plate, and insurance—the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is not unconstitutional—it may save your life,” said Sollie. The Sheriff’s Department warns drivers that just because the state does not require an inspection sticker anymore, that any vehicle should still be properly functional in all forms, in the way that is required by the law.