Snap your seat belt selfie
CHAMPAIGN, ILL. (WCCU) —
Illinois State Police District 10 Troopers are alarmed by the number of unbuckled passengers on the roads—especially children.
Trooper Tracy Lillard said she hears all sorts of excuses when pulling over drivers for this offense.
“My kid was tired. They just wanted to lay down. The kid was uncomfortable. The kid was being grouchy,” Trooper Lillard said.
Especially as a mom of three, Trooper Lillard sees unbuckled children as unacceptable.
“The leading cause of death for kids is car crashes,” Trooper Lillard said.
In Illinois, driving with unrestrained kids in the car is an automatic ticket and mandatory court appearance.
Trooper Lillard said in many of these cases, the unstrapped passengers may not know any better.
"A lot of times we hear from the kids that their parents don’t wear their seat belts,” Trooper Lillard said. “They think it’s no big deal."
So she is making it a big deal. Not just by writing tickets, but by starting a conversation with parents.
"I was really surprised to hear a state police officer say there were a couple of instances where kids have been unbuckled in the back seat,” local mom Jessa Barnard said.
Another parent Trooper Lillard talked to Thursday said he knew the dangers of unbuckled kids all too well. As an emergency room physician, Dr. Joseph Spenneta frequently sees kids come in with bad injuries as a result of not wearing their seat belt. So it’s safety first when it comes to going anywhere with his 2-year-old son.
"I make sure he's in as tight as possible,” Dr. Spenneta said. “If I didn't-- [his] mom would get mad at me anyway.”
Trooper Lillard also promotes child safety belt awareness by going straight to the source.
“We educate kids,” Trooper Lillard said. “We tell them at a young age, this is why we want you to wear your seat belt."
Trooper Lillard had an idea to make this awareness fun by sparking a trend with the #seatbeltselfie.
The Illinois State Police District 10 Facebook page shares selfie photos of kids wearing their seat belt, which brings more people into the conversation.
It is important you do not take a seat belt selfie while driving.