Fayette County

Motorists urged to buckle up

Television commercials, signs at area schools and increased enforcement of the seat-belt law are all part of a new campaign to increase seat-belt usage.

"Buckle Up Bluegrass" is a new regional public safety campaign geared toward increasing seat-belt usage to save lives. A coalition of local groups has raised more than $20,000, mostly from private sources, to pay for the campaign.

Since Kentucky's primary seat-belt law went into effect three years ago, there have been 70 fewer crash deaths each year, said Therese Moseley, chairwoman of Buckle Up Bluegrass.

In Fayette County and the region, not enough young people are buckling up, Moseley said.

Across the country, 76 percent of youth ages 16 to 24 wore a seat belt in 2006. In Fayette County, that number was as low as 62 percent.

During the past five years, 22 percent of the people killed in Fayette County car crashes were young people, and 80.8 percent of them weren't wearing a seat belt. Young people make up 17 percent of the county's population.

Buckle Up Bluegrass is launching an intensive public education campaign in September.

The campaign will consist of TV commercials, commercials at movie theaters, volunteers at football games, messages at churches and games, and contests at the Buckle Up Bluegrass Web site (www.buckleupbluegrass.com).

Law enforcement also plans to do its part by increasing enforcement of the seat-belt law.

Lexington police plan to emphasize seat-belt enforcement in September, said Chief Ronnie Bastin. Special officers will be dedicated to enforcement, he said.

"As a parent, I'm certainly not looking forward to the day when I turn the car keys over to a 16-year-old son, but fortunately my boys are still in elementary school," said Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry.

His hope is that, through the work of Buckle Up Bluegrass, "by the time my sons get the keys to the car, there won't be any question that they'll have their seat belts on."