FW police begin seat belt crackdown

Seat belt use, or a lack of it, isn’t much of a problem in Federal Way, but Federal Way police are joining law enforcement agencies in a nationwide campaign to boost belt use and save lives.

The Federal Way Police Department’s participation shows “really more that we are on board with the campaign,” Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said. “It’s not necessarily a response to any particular situation in Federal Way.”

The seat belt blitz began Monday, as 11,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states launched Operation ABC Mobilization. Police say they hope the fine for not wearing a seat belt will encourage drivers to buckle up.

While people generally think teens will be the ones to watch, sometimes it’s the older drivers who are harder to convince because they didn’t always have to wear them, Kirkpatrick said.

Seat belt use has been a law in Washington since 1986.

Washington State Patrol Lt. Steve McCulley said officers can see if someone isn’t wearing a seat belt, but they won’t be able to pull drivers over simply for not wearing their belts until a new law goes into effect June 13.

Officers will ticket drivers who aren’t wearing seat belts after June 13, but they won’t be looking for them specifically.

“We hope it will be more heightened in the mind of the driving community, not in the mind of the officers,” Kirkpatrick said.

Seat belts save the lives of people who would otherwise be ejected from the car or who would hit the dashboard or windshield during a collision.

“If you’re not strapped in and you go smashing through the front windshield, that’s what’s going to kill you,” Kirkpatrick said.

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