Zero tolerance: That is the Charles County Sheriff's Office's policy for motorists who do not buckle up or properly secure their child passengers, and between April 5 and June 5, the Sheriff's Office is stepping up its enforcement efforts as part of the 17th annual Chiefs' Challenge, a state-wide safety belt and child safety seat use campaign.
The Chiefs' Challenge, which is sponsored by the Maryland Chiefs' of Police Association, seeks to educate the public about the lifesaving and injury-preventing benefits of seatbelt and child safety seat use. As part of the campaign, the Sheriff's Office will conduct random checkpoints at various locations throughout Charles County. Anyone found not wearing a seatbelt or with an improperly restrained child passenger will be issued a citation. Last year, the Sheriff's Office issued 266 citations for seatbelt and child safety seat violations during Chiefs' Challenge.
"The Sheriff's Office is committed to ensuring our citizens know the importance of obeying the seatbelt and child safety seat laws," said Charles County Sheriff Frederick E. Davis. "Year round, all of our officers enforce these laws, and the Traffic Operations Unit plays a major role by doing community talks and presentations, setting up checkpoints and coordinating our participation in Chiefs' Challenge."
More than 100 law enforcement agencies in Maryland participate in Chiefs' Challenge. As a result of their efforts last year, during state-wide observational surveys taken in the spring of 2004, Maryland's seatbelt usage rate was 89 percent. However, even with the majority of Maryland's public buckling up, this still means more than 550,000 Marylanders continue to put themselves in danger by riding unbuckled.
"Chiefs' Challenge gives all the law enforcement agencies in the state the opportunity to collectively send a clear message to Marylanders about the importance of buckling up," said Sheriff Davis. "If people still refuse to wear their seatbelts, law enforcement officers across the Maryland will stop them and issue a citation. It's not to intentionally inconvenience anyone; it's about our sincere mission to protect our citizens from the dangers of not buckling up."
The Charles County Sheriff's Office was recognized in 2004 for its efforts during the 16th annual Chiefs' Challenge. It was the seventh consecutive year the Sheriff's Office has received the prestigious award.