MoDOT encourages safety through seat belt checks at Benton

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MoDOT hands out candy during seat belt checks at Benton High School Friday morning. Photo courtesy MoDOT.

Missouri Department of Transportation crews were out at Benton High School Friday morning conducting seat belt checks.

Northwest District Area Engineer with MoDOT Adam Watson said they do several seat belt checks throughout the School District.

“We check seat belt compliance, are the kids and faculty wearing their seat belts,” Watson said. “One of the first safety features for the highway is the car, is using the safety features in the car. Wearing the seat belt… It’s one of your best defenses against distracted drivers. You can’t fix them driving distracted, but you can protect yourself by (wearing) the seat belt. We work with the schools to make sure that we reinforce with everyone that, school students, wear that safety belt.”

According to MoDOT, crews checked 332 cars and handed out candy. There were 555 people in those cars and 430 of those occupants were wearing a seat belt and 125 were not.

State Representative for the 11th District Galen Higdon was also at Benton High School Friday morning.

“I was a 30-year veteran of the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department, I saw a lot of crashes. I’ve had to go out in the fields and pick up people that were ejected and small children and various things,” Higdon said. “I’ve got young grandchildren now that are out driving on the roads and I want them to be safe and I want everyone out there to be as safe as they possibly can and use the safety devices in their vehicles.”

Higdon has been involved with a bill regarding distracted driving.

“What I did was, just to test the water and to make it as non-intrusive as I could, we’ve taken it to people that drive for hire – school bus drivers, taxi cab drivers, Uber drivers – anybody that has a fare, a passenger in their vehicle, that they have to use a hands-free communication,” Higdon said. “No texting, no putting the phone up to your ear, no distracted driving… keep both hands on the wheel, pay adequate attention to the road and protect those people that trust you to drive them down the road.”

Higdon said the bill went before the body Thursday and will be voted on next week to be sent to the Senate.