Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Bill Manecke's job is to tell people to buckle up and to tell the public how they can save lives during his department's upcoming "Click It or Ticket" campaign next week.
He knows from personal experience. He was in a serious car accident in August.
"Had I not been wearing my seat belt," Lt. Manecke said, "I would have been ejected."
From Monday through June 5, officers in Richmond County and around Georgia will set up road checks and patrols to enforce seat belt laws to reduce deaths.
Georgia has a "primary" seat belt law, allowing police to stop motorists simply for not wearing their seat belts. In South Carolina, the General Assembly passed its own primary seat belt law Wednesday, and the bill is awaiting Gov. Mark Sanford's signature.
A second focus is to make sure children are properly restrained, he said.
In March, police said 3-year-old Cimmeshia Wynn died in an automobile accident on Deans Bridge Road in Blythe after she was not properly restrained.
Her mother, Tawana Parker, 24, was charged with failure to properly restrain her children, failure to maintain lane and second-degree vehicular homicide.
Richmond County court records do not show any resolution in the case.
"What heavier price can a parent pay than to have a child die because they did not do what they needed to do?" Lt. Manecke said.
Fines for not buckling up or properly restraining children range from $15 to $100, with higher fines for children not in car seats or buckled in, the lieutenant said.
"The smaller the child, the higher the fine," he said.
Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or firstname.lastname@example.org.