Operation ABC

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol will join thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country to take part in the second wave of the 1999 Operation ABC Mobilization: America Buckles Up Children - the largest ever coordinated enforcement effort on drivers who don't buckle up children.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is encouraging hundreds of corporate, civic and advocacy organizations nationwide to support the campaign with their endorsement for the enforcement of safety belt usage.

"NHTSA's nationwide goal for this safety program is to raise seat belt use to 85 percent, and to reduce child crash fatalities 15 percent by the year 2000," said First Lieutenant Stewart Meyer of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Highway patrol troopers will participate in the campaign through public service announcements, education, enforcement and increased visibility to travelers.

"When a black and white enforcement vehicle is seen by drivers, they generally respond by slowing their speed and checking to see if they put their safety belt on," said Meyer. "That's exactly how we would like them to respond, especially during this, the highest traveled holiday."

The 1998 death toll for the Thanksgiving holiday was 21, the highest since 1985. Seven people died because the driver was speeding, six deaths were due to failure to stop or yield, and four died as a result of the driver traveling left of center.

"Fortunately, this year, traffic deaths in Oklahoma have consistently lagged behind last year's totals," said Meyer. "However, this month we have exceeded the number of deaths compared to the same date in November 1998, thereby narrowing the annual margin total."

NHTSA reports that when drivers are buckled, children riding with them are buckled 87 percent of the time. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death and injury to children up to the age of 15.