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V.I. Office of Highway Safety - November 14, 2020 – “National Seatbelt Day”

November 12, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – When vehicle drivers and passengers consistently use seatbelts, they save much more than the costs associated with hefty traffic citations; they save lives! Seat belts, when worn correctly, reduce the risk of sustaining life-threatening injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes. National Seat Belt Day, observed annually on November 14th, reminds drivers and their passengers of the critical importance of using seatbelts. “On National Seat Belt Day, everyone is encouraged to BUCKLE UP to save lives. No matter where you sit in a vehicle, wearing a seat belt is proven to save lives,” stated VI Office of Highway Safety Director, Daphne O’Neal.

Safety precautions and preventative measures save lives. In Fiscal Year 2019, the Virgin Islands Police Department recorded 19 fatalities because of automobile accidents; 37% of which involved occupants who wore no seat belts. In Fiscal Year 2020, the territory recorded 14 fatalities; 43% of these wore no seat belts. According to Police Commissioner Trevor Velinor, “the use of seatbelts is critical in the safety of passengers. It is important for every vehicle occupant to buckle up and arrive alive.”

Virgin Islands law requires all vehicular passengers, in both front and rear seats, to wear an appropriate restraint. While it is incumbent that motorists adhere to the law, it is most critical that motorists protect and preserve the lives of young passengers. Infants under 20 pounds must be placed in a rear-facing child car seat. Children from 20 to 40 pounds are required to sit in an appropriate forward-facing car seat. Booster seats are required for children 40 to 80 pounds, or up to 4’9” tall. All children, ages 13 and under, must sit in the back seat of the vehicle. Director O’Neal reminds everyone, “We must be especially vigilant to protect the children of our Territory by ensuring that they are buckled in the correct child restraint seats.”

As the holidays approach and traffic increases, National Seat Belt Day inspires a new commitment to observing the law and to the preservation of life. Despite the time of day, length of trip or speed of travel, all drivers and their passengers must take three seconds to preserve and protect a lifetime. Buckle up, VI! Every trip. Every time. Everyone.

For more information on seat belt use or to start a program encouraging seat belt compliance, you may contact the Virgin Islands Office of Highway Safety through Director Daphne O’Neal at daphne.oneal@vipd.vi.gov, or Occupant Protection Coordinator Denise Gomes at denise.gomes@vipd.vi.gov. You may also contact the office via telephone at (340) 772-3025.

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